Azar KMJ, Shen Z, Romanelli RJ, Lockhart SH, Smits K, Robinson S, Brown S, Pressman AR., Health Aff (Millwood). 101377hlthaff202000598. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00598. [Epub ahead of print], 2020 May 21
As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic spreads throughout the United States, evidence is mounting that racial and ethnic minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups are bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and death.
We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of COVID-19 patients at Sutter Health, a large integrated health care system in northern California, to measure potential disparities. We used Sutter's integrated electronic health record to identify adults with suspected and confirmed COVID-19, and used multivariable logistic regression to assess risk of hospitalization, adjusting for known risk factors, such as race/ethnicity, sex, age, health, and socioeconomic variables. We analyzed 1,052 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from January 1-April 8, 2020.
Among our findings, we observed that, compared with non-Hispanic white patients, African Americans had 2.7 times the odds of hospitalization, after adjusting for age, sex, comorbidities, and income. We explore possible explanations for this, including societal factors that either result in barriers to timely access to care or create circumstances in which patients view delaying care as the most sensible option.
Our study provides real-world evidence that there are racial and ethnic disparities in the presentation of COVID-19.