To determine whether racial/ethnic disparities in colonoscopy use vary by physician availability.
We used 100 percent exas edicare claims data for 2003–2007.
We identified beneficiaries aged 66–79 in 2007, examined racial/ethnic differences in colonoscopy use from 2003 to 2007, and estimated the percentage of white, black, and ispanic beneficiaries who underwent colonoscopy by level of physician availability and area income.
For the 974,879 beneficiaries, colonoscopy use was higher in whites (40.7 percent) compared to blacks (35.0 percent) and ispanics (28.7 percent, < .001). For whites, increasing availability of colonoscopists and primary care physicians () was associated with higher colonoscopy use. For blacks and ispanics, colonoscopy use was unchanged or decreased with increases in colonoscopist and availability. In multilevel models, the odds of colonoscopy were 20 percent lower for blacks ( 0.80, 95 percent 0.79–0.82) and 32 percent lower for ispanics ( 0.68, 95 percent 0.66–0.69) compared to whites; adjusting for availability of colonoscopists or did not attenuate racial/ethnic disparities. We found greater racial/ethnic disparities in areas with greater colonoscopist and availability.
Greater area availability of colonoscopists and is associated with increased use of colonoscopy in whites but decreased use in minorities, resulting in larger racial/ethnic disparities.