Study Shows Racial Disparities in Nursing Home Care

First Posted: Sep 03, 2013 05:41 PM EDT

A recent study shows that poor and aging black Americans may have less luck than other races when it comes to care in the nursing home.  

According to researchers at the University of Central Florida, statistics show that nursing homes that serve predominantly black residents tend to struggle financially and provide lower quality care than those with no black residents.

"There is no simple fix," assistant professor Latarsha Chisholm of the University of Central Florida said, via a press release. "It is a complex issue, but we need to address it because disparities are everyone's issue."

The study authors analyzed both financial and quality data for more than 11,500 nursing homes nationwide from 1999 to 2004, obtaining several secondary sources as well.

Researchers note that racial and ethnic disparities can be explained in the health care complex via a concentration in Medicaid-reliant nursing homes that have been documented as potential contributors to health care disparities. Yet understanding the exact representation that contributes to these factors is unclear. Chisholm believes that such factors including residential segregation and admission practices also contribute to these discrepancies.

Background information from the study notes that blacks commonly tend to reside in nearby community nursing homes that tend to mostly black residents who are covered by Medicaid. This may create a challenge when it comes to the investment of medical equipment, staff and staff training.

Statistics show that blacks more heavily rely on Medicaid than non-blacks according to the study and nursing homes receiving payment through this method can have more issues with finances, according to Chisholm. On the other hand, some nursing homes are also reluctant to take Medicaid and prefer private insurance.

Chisholm notes that potential solutions for these disparities could range from financial incentives for better medical performances to a restructured Medicaid system.

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More information regarding the study can be found via Health Services Research journal.

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