Racial disparities in utilization of specialist care and medications in inflammatory bowel disease


OBJECTIVES: Optimization of medical therapy and specialist care for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may reduce morbidity. We sought to characterize racial disparities in utilization of healthcare and medical therapy for IBD. METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional study of black (n=137) and white (n=149) IBD patients recruited from an outpatient IBD clinic and through medical record review and telephone interview, compared utilization of IBD specialist services, emergency department (ED) services, and medications. We adjusted racial comparisons for demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical factors. RESULTS: After adjustment for confounders, blacks were less likely than whites to be under the regular care (defined as at least annual visit) of a gastroenterologist (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.43; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.25-0.75) or IBD specialist (aOR 0.37; 95% CI: 0.22-0.61). Follow-up with a primary care provider was, however, similar between blacks and whites. Over the preceding 12 months, blacks were more likely than whites to have at least one visit to the ED (aOR 2.02; 95% CI: 1.22-3.35), but there was no difference in hospitalization. Among CD patients with prolonged steroid use, blacks were less likely than whites to have been on infliximab (aOR 0.41; 95% CI: 0.21-0.77), but there were no racial differences in the use of immunomodulators (aOR 0.87; 95% CI: 0.48-1.60). CONCLUSIONS: There are racial differences in utilization of IBD-related specialist services, ED visits, and infliximab that are independent of income and education. Modifiable barriers to health-care access may have a role in these disparities.

The American Journal of Gastroenterology