September 1, 2015

Disparities in Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations for Chronic Conditions Among Korean Americans, Hawaii, 2010–2012

Hyun-Hee Heo, Dr.P.H.; Tetine L. Sentell, Ph.D.; Dongmei Li, Ph.D.; Hyeong Jun Ahn, Ph.D.; Jill Miyamura, Ph.D.; Kathryn Braun, Dr.P.H.

Preventing Chronic Disease

Introduction:  Korean Americans are a growing but understudied population group in the United States. High rates of potentially preventable hospitalizations suggest that primary care is underutilized. We compared preventable hospitalizations for chronic conditions in aggregate and for congestive heart failure (CHF) for Korean Americans and whites in Hawaii.

Methods:  Discharge data from 2010 to 2012 for all hospitalizations of adults in Hawaii for preventable hospitalizations in aggregate and for CHF included 4,345 among Korean Americans and 81,570 among whites. Preventable hospitalization rates for chronic conditions and CHF were calculated for Korean Americans and whites by sex and age group (18–64 y vs ≥65 y). Unadjusted rate ratios for Korean Americans were calculated relative to whites. Multivariate models, controlling for insurance type and comorbidity, provided adjusted rate ratios (aRRs).

Results:  Korean American women and men aged 65 or older were at greater risk of preventable hospitalization overall than white women (aRR, 2.48; P = .003) and white men (aRR, 1.82; P = .049). Korean American men aged 65 or older also were at greater risk of hospitalization for CHF relative to white men (aRR, 1.87; P = .04) and for older Korean American women (aRR, 1.75; P = .07). Younger age groups did not differ significantly.

Conclusion:  Older Korean American patients may have significant disparities in preventable hospitalizations, which suggests poor access to or poor quality of primary health care. Improving primary care for Korean Americans may prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, improve quality of life for Korean Americans with chronic illness, and reduce health care costs.


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