Socioeconomic disparities in the thoracic trauma population

Krista L. Haines, Tiffany Zens, Megan Beems, Ryan Rauh, Hee Soo Jung, Suresh Agarwal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background Health-care disparities based on socioeconomic status have been well documented in the trauma literature; however, there is a paucity of data on how these factors affect outcomes in patients experiencing severe thoracic trauma. This study aims to identify the effect of insurance status and race on patient mortality and disposition after thoracic trauma. Methods The National Trauma Data Bank was queried from 2007 to 2012 for patients with sternal fractures, rib fractures, and flailed chest. Demographics data were examined for the cohort based on insurance status. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression models were used, controlling for patient comorbidities, age, injury severity score, and associated injuries, to determine the impact of race and insurance status on length of stay, mortality, and discharge disposition. Results A total of 152,655 thoracic traumas were included in our analysis. As compared to privately insured patients, uninsured patients with thoracic trauma were 1.9 times more likely to die (odds ratio [OR]: 1.91, confidence interval [CI]: 1.76-2.09) and 4.6 times more likely to leave against medical advice (OR: 4.61, CI: 3.14-6.79). When compared to Caucasians, Hispanics had slightly higher in-hospital mortality (OR: 1.14, CI: 1.02-1.27), but there was no survival difference seen in black patients (OR: 0.95, CI: 0.86-1.05). Conclusions Insurance status appears to have a more significant effect on thoracic trauma patient outcomes than race, but substantial socioeconomic disparities were seen in this patient population. Further studies are needed to show reproducibility of our findings and to investigate the impact of universal health care and expansion of insurance availability on thoracic trauma outcomes. Level of evidence Level 3, economic/decision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-165
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Insurance
  • Race
  • Rib fractures
  • Socioeconomic disparities
  • Thoracic trauma


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