Minority preferences and disease types for non-emergent emergency department usage in a CHIP population

Carl Tapia, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. Of the over five million annual pediatric visits to U.S. emergency departments, one-third to one-half are for non-emergent conditions. Minorities are more likely to utilize the emergency department (ED) for non-emergent conditions. Very little research has analyzed the role of illness type, perceived need, or family preferences in explaining this disparity. Objectives. This study examined racial-ethnic differences in preferences for care among non-emergent users of the ED. Research design. A random selection of pediatric non-emergent ED users within a single CHIP managed care plan were surveyed regarding attitudes and health care preferences. Preferences for ED utilization were analyzed by racial-ethnic category, controlling for illness type, child and guardian age, education level, language, and perceived need. Results. A total of 250 families were surveyed. Most respondents reported having a regular doctor, satisfaction with their physician, and ready access to their physician. Fifteen percent of White, 39% of Hispanic, and 38% of Black families reported they preferred the emergency department for ill care. In multivariate analysis, Whites families were significantly less likely to prefer the emergency department for ill visits (odds ratio, 0.12; 95% confidence interval 0.03-0.55) compared to Blacks and Hispanics. Conclusions. Racial-ethnic disparities in non-emergent ED utilization may be partially explained by different preferences for care. Key words: children, emergency department, preferences for care, disparities

Subject Area

African Americans|Public health|Hispanic Americans

Recommended Citation

Tapia, Carl, "Minority preferences and disease types for non-emergent emergency department usage in a CHIP population" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1454488.