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VOLUME 47 | NUMBER 3 | JUNE 2012

Decomposing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Use of Postacute Rehabilitation Care

Keywords: Modeling, multilevel;geographic/spatial factors/small area variations;racial/ethnic differences in health and health care;rehabilitation services

Objective: To determine the degree to which racial and ethnic disparities in the use of postacute rehabilitation care (PARC) are explained by observed characteristics.

Data Source: State inpatient databases (SIDs) for 2005 and 2006 from four diverse states were used to identify patients with stays for joint replacement, stroke, or hip fracture.

Study Design: Our primary outcomes were use of institutional PARC (versus discharge home) and, conditional on discharge to an institution, skilled nursing facility (versus inpatient rehabilitation facility) care. We modified the Oaxaca–Blinder decomposition method to account for the dichotomous outcome and multilevel nature of the data.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: Discharges from the four SIDs were included if the principal diagnosis (stroke, hip fracture) or procedure (joint replacement) was in the sample inclusion criteria.

Principal Findings: Observed characteristics explained roughly half of the unadjusted differences in use of institutional PARC. Patient-level factors (clinical, age) were more explanatory of disparities in institutional PARC use, while hospital-level factors were more explanatory of skilled nursing facility versus inpatient rehabilitation facility care.

Conclusions: Adjustment for characteristics influencing PARC use both mitigated and exacerbated racial/ethnic disparities in use. The degree to which the characteristics explained the disparity varied across conditions and outcomes.

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