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Disparities in outpatient and home health service utilization following stroke: results of a 9-year cohort study in Northern California

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether there are disparities in utilization of outpatient and home care services after stroke. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. SETTING: The Kaiser Permanente of Northern California health care system, which provides health care for approximately 3.3 million members. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 11,119 patients hospitalized for a stroke between 1996 and 2003 and followed for 1 year. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Receipt of outpatient rehabilitation (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, or physical medicine and rehabilitation/physiatry visits), and/or home health care. RESULTS: There were significant differences in outpatient rehabilitation visits and home health enrollment during the year after acute care discharge for all the parameters under study. Older age and female gender were associated with less outpatient rehabilitation treatment, but these subpopulations were more likely to be enrolled in home health care. Non-whites, patients from urban areas, those with ischemic strokes, and those with longer acute care hospital stays had relatively more outpatient rehabilitation and were also more likely to be enrolled in the home health program. In addition, patients living in geographic areas with a median household income of $80,000 or more had significantly more outpatient rehabilitation visits than did patients living in lower income areas. CONCLUSIONS: Variations in outpatient rehabilitation visits and in home health care exist in this large integrated health system in terms of age, gender, race/ethnicity, residence area, type of stroke, and length of stay in an acute care hospital. The Kaiser Permanente integrated health care system seems to have outpatient stroke rehabilitation and home health programs that are providing care without disparities in relation to non-white populations, but other disparities appear to exist that may be related to socioeconomic factors, referral patterns, family support systems, or other cultural factors that have not been identified.

Authors: Chan L; Wang H; Terdiman J; Hoffman J; Ciol MA; Lattimore BF; Sidney S; Quesenberry C; Lu Q; Sandel ME

PM R. 2009 Nov;1(11):997-1003.

PubMed abstract

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