African-American children are twice as likely as white children to be readmitted to the hospital for asthma, a new report from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has discovered, according to The Enquirer.
About 23 percent of black children were readmitted to the hospital within a year, while only 11 percent of other children participating in the study, most of whom were white, were readmitted during the same period. Almost 19 percent of all the children were readmitted during the 12-month period.
Researchers are pointing to financial and social burdens, such as the caregiver’s lack of employment and difficulty finding transportation, for a staggering 40 percent increase in the likelihood of asthma readmissions among black children, according to the study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Black caregivers are more likely to report these struggles than their white counterparts. Some believe that a home delivery system for asthma medications, instead of having patients go to a pharmacy, might be a way of cutting the costs, the news site notes.
"Readmission rates are a central focus of health care reform," Dr. Andrew Beck, a Cincinnati Children’s pediatrician who was lead author of the study, said in a release. "Reducing disparities in such outcomes will be critical, especially since payment reform will be based more on quality outcomes and less so on health care encounters."
Targeting financial and social problems that are often at the root of racial disparities "may provide one path for achieving better outcomes," Beck added. "Identifying hardships could prompt partnerships with individuals and agencies poised to provide added community support for families."
Other possible areas of intervention include pollution, exposure to tobacco and quality of housing.
According to The Enquirer, asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease, and in Ohio (and Kentucky) the figures are particularly staggering, with rates some of the nation's highest.
The study gathered data from August 2010 to October 2011, using 774 patients ages 1 to 16 from the Greater Cincinnati Asthma Risks Study. About 57 percent of the children were black.
Read more at Cincinnati.com.