Ethnic differences in potentially preventable hospitalizations among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders: implications for reducing health care disparities

Moy E, Mau MK, Raetzman S, Barrett M, Miyamura JB, Chaves KH, Andrews R.  Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, USA.  Ethn Dis. 2013 Winter;23(1):6-11.

OBJECTIVES: A serious challenge to eliminating US health disparities stems from the inability to reliably measure outcomes, particularly for numerically small populations. Our study aimed to produce reliable estimates of health care quality among Native Hawaiian (NH), Other Pacific Islander (PI), and Asian American (AA) subgroups.

DESIGN: Prevention Quality Indicators (PQIs) from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality were used to calculate 3 PQI composites and 8 individual chronic condition indicators. Data sources were the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Databases and the Hawaii Health Survey.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Risk-adjusted PQI rates for adults were computed for 2005 through 2007. Relative rates for 2007 were calculated for each racial/ethnic group and compared to Whites. Statistical significance was based on P < .05 from a two-sided t test.

RESULTS: The combined AANHPI group had higher overall and chronic PQI composite rates than Whites in 2007. When disaggregated into discrete racial/ethnic subgroups, Chinese and Japanese had lower rates than Whites for all 3 composites, whereas NH and Other PI subgroups typically had the worst health outcomes. Trends in PQI rates from 2005 through 2007 showed persistent gaps between groups, especially across chronic PQIs.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite recent efforts to reduce racial/ethnic health care disparities, significant gaps remain in potentially preventable hospitalization rates. Practical tools that measure inequities across diverse, numerically small populations may suggest ways to optimally funnel limited resources toward improving racial/ethnic differences in health outcomes.