Racial and ethnic patterns in the utilization of prehospital emergency transport services in the United States.Prehosp Disaster Med 1999 Oct-Dec; 14(4):232-5PD
This descriptive research used a large, urban population-based data set for prehospital, emergency medical transports to examine racial/ethnic patterns of access and utilization for several broad categories of emergency medical transport services.
Fire department files of approximately 39,000 reports on service provision were used to establish rates of transport utilization per 1,000 population in 1990, the most recent year for which reliable city-level census data were available. Data were categorized by three age groups (< 25 years, 25-64 years, > or = 65 years), three racial/ethnic groups (non-Hispanic whites, African-Americans, Hispanics), and gender. Transport rates were computed for total utilization, trauma incidents, and incidents due to medical conditions. Racial/ethnic rates were analyzed for each age and gender group and age- and gender-standardized rates were analyzed and presented in a graphical comparison. Statistical analyses of racial/ethnic differences were conducted using Tukey-type tests of multiple comparisons of proportions, with significant differences evaluated at the p = 0.001 level of significance.
Significant differences between racial/ethnic groups in the utilization of emergency transport services existed for all pair-wise comparisons including comparisons by each of the three age groups and gender. For total utilization, unadjusted rates are highest for African-Americans (65.9/1,000) and lowest for Hispanics (25.8/1.000). Likewise, African-American rates were substantially higher for both gender groups and across all age groups. Categorized by gender and age group under age > or = 65 years, non-Hispanic whites are observed to have the lowest rates for both males and females under the age 65 years, while Hispanics have the lowest rates in the group 65 years old However, when rates are age- and gender-standardized, compared to African-Americans and Hispanics, rates for non-Hispanic whites are significantly lower for total transports and for trauma and medically related transports (p = 0.001).
Age- and gender-standardized rates for emergency medical transport were found to be lowest for non-Hispanic, whites, moderately higher for Hispanics, and substantially higher for African-Americans, who experienced transport rates nearly three times higher than were the rates for non-Hispanic whites. Further research is required to establish the extent to which racial/ethnic differences observed in this geographically restricted study reflect variations between racial/ethnic groups in the underlying need for services.