Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Treatment of Dementia Among Medicare Beneficiaries

Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging, Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, 220 Arch Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.
The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (Impact Factor: 3.21). 10/2008; 63(5):S328-33. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/63.5.S328
Source: PubMed


Numerous studies have documented disparities in health care utilization between non-Hispanic White and minority elders. We investigated differences in anti-dementia medication use between non-Hispanic White and minority community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries with dementia.
Using multivariate analysis with generalized estimating equations, we estimated prevalence ratios (PRs) for anti-dementia medication use by race/ethnicity for 1,120 beneficiaries with dementia from years 2001 through 2003 of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey.
After adjusting for demographics, socioeconomics, health care access and utilization, comorbidities, and service year, we found that anti-dementia medication use was approximately 30% higher among non-Hispanic Whites compared to other racial/ethnic groups (PR=0.73, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.59, 0.91). As for individual racial/ethnic groups, prevalence disparities remained significant for non-Hispanic Blacks (PR=0.75, 95% CI=0.57, 0.99) and non-Hispanic others (PR=0.50, 95% CI=0.26, 0.96) but were attenuated for Hispanics (PR=0.84, 95% CI=0.59, 1.20).
Results provide evidence that racial/ethnic disparities in utilization of drugs used to treat dementia exist and are not accounted for by differences in demographic, economic, health status, or health utilization factors. Findings provide a foundation for further research that should use larger numbers of minority patients and consider dementia type and severity, access to specialty dementia care, and cultural factors.

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