OBJECTIVE - To examine healthcare resource utilization for acute respiratory illness in Latino infants compared with other racial/ethnic groups.
STUDY DESIGN - We studied 674 term-born, previously healthy infants brought in for an unscheduled healthcare visit for an acute respiratory illness. The predictor variable was infant race/ethnicity, and the primary outcome was healthcare resource utilization, adjusted for age and disease severity.
RESULTS - The cohort was 14% Latino, 52% white, 22% African American, and 12% other race/ethnicity. More than one-third (37%) of the mothers of Latino infants were Spanish-speaking. The bronchiolitis severity score was higher (indicating more severe disease) in white infants (median, 6.0; IQR, 3.0-9.0 on a scale of 0-12) compared with Latino (median, 3.0; IQR, 1.0-6.0) and African American (median, 3.5; IQR, 1.0-6.0) infants (P < .001 for the comparison of all groups). Disease severity was similar in Latino and African American infants (P = .96). Latino infants were the most likely to receive antibiotics (58%, compared with 47% of whites and 34% of African Americans; P = .005) and to have body fluid cultures drawn. Latino infants also were more likely than African American infants to undergo chest radiography and respiratory virus rapid antigen testing (P ≤ .01). Latino infants from Spanish-speaking families had a higher rate of respiratory syncytial virus testing compared with those from English-speaking families (76% vs 51%; P = .016).
CONCLUSION - Providers caring for Latino infants with acute respiratory illness ordered more antibiotics and diagnostic testing for this group, particularly compared with African Americans, even though the 2 groups had similar disease severity and socioeconomic disparities. Language barrier may be a possible explanation for these differences.
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