Ethnic variation in asthma healthcare utilisation and exacerbation: systematic review and meta-analysis

Akin-Imran, AbdulQadr, Bajpai, Achint orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3172-8665, McCartan, Dáire, Heaney, Liam G, Kee, Frank, Redmond, Charlene and Busby, John (2023) Ethnic variation in asthma healthcare utilisation and exacerbation: systematic review and meta-analysis. ERJ Open Research, 9 (3).

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Background Patients from ethnic minority groups (EMGs) frequently report poorer asthma outcomes; however, a broad synthesis summarising ethnic disparities is yet to be undertaken. What is the magnitude of ethnic disparities in asthma healthcare utilisation, exacerbations and mortality?

Methods MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science databases were searched for studies reporting ethnic variation in asthma healthcare outcomes (primary care attendance, exacerbation, emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalisation, hospital readmission, ventilation/intubation and mortality) between White patients and those from EMGs. Estimates were displayed using forest plots and random-effects models were used to calculate pooled estimates. We conducted subgroup analyses to explore heterogeneity, including by specific ethnicity (Black, Hispanic, Asian and other).

Results 65 studies, comprising 699 882 patients, were included. Most studies (92.3%) were conducted in the United States of America (USA). Patients from EMGs had evidence suggestive of lower levels of primary care attendance (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.48–1.09), but substantially higher ED visits (OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.53–1.98), hospitalisations (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.48–1.79) and ventilation/intubation (OR 2.67, 95% CI 1.65–4.31) when compared to White patients. In addition, we found evidence suggestive of increased hospital readmissions (OR 1.19, 95% CI 0.90–1.57) and exacerbation rates (OR 1.10, 95% CI 0.94–1.28) among EMGs. No eligible studies explored disparities in mortality. ED visits were much higher among Black and Hispanic patients, while Asian and other ethnicities had similar rates to White patients.

Conclusions EMGs had higher secondary care utilisation and exacerbations. Despite the global importance of this issue, the majority of studies were performed in the USA. Further research into the causes of these disparities, including whether these vary by specific ethnicity, is required to aid the design of effective interventions.

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