Minority patient populations less likely to undergo CT imaging than white counterparts

Black, Latino and Asian patients are less likely than their white counterparts to ever undergo CT imaging, according to a new analysis of survey data published Tuesday in Radiology.

Meanwhile, the results are more mixed among minorities for chest X-rays, with Black patients likelier to receive such scans and Hispanics and Asians less prone. The findings were derived from a retrospective review of 2015 National Health Interview Survey information, comprising nearly 150 million participants.

Experts believe further research is needed to pinpoint interventions that promote more equitable diagnostic imaging delivery.

“Although it is possible that this represents overuse in white patients, our results raise concern that decreased use of imaging in patients of color may contribute to the worsened health outcomes seen in these populations,” Andrew Ross, MD, an assistant professor with the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Radiology, and co-authors wrote Nov. 2. “Adherence to evidence-based imaging guidelines for patients of all racial and ethnic groups may help mitigate both under- and overuse of imaging and improve care.”

The CDC survey—performed each year since 1957 to monitor the health of the nation—logged a more than 70% response rate, offering a nationally representative sample. Ross et al. chose 2015 for their analysis because it was the first year to include imaging. Respondents were incorporated into Tuesday’s study if they were over 40, with the study sample logging an average age of 60.

About 44% of those who answered the question reported ever having a CT scan. Broken down by race, nearly 49% of whites said they had received a computed tomography exam in their life compared to 41% of Black respondents, 26% among Hispanics, and almost 28% of Asian Americans. Overall, 21% had their chest X-rayed in the past year, with whites reporting 21.5%, nearly 27% among Black respondents, and lower tallies in the Latino (16%) and Asian (18%) groups.

“Reasons for the relative increased use of chest radiography in Black patients are difficult to determine from the survey data but may include ethnicity-specific differences in disease prevalence, cultural attitudes toward different imaging modalities, or differing decision making for minority patients by ordering providers,” the authors noted.

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