According to a new study, African-American patients who are positive for COVID-19 have more chances to be hospitalized than non-Hispanic whites.
According to the study published Thursday in the journal Health Affairs, among 1,052 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within one California health network, 52% of African Americans were hospitalized compared to 25.7% of non-Hispanic white patients.
The team at Sutter Health, a health care network serving 22 counties in Northern California, including in the San Francisco Bay area, found that nearly 25% of African Americans who were hospitalized for COVID-19 during the time period studied were transferred to the intensive care unit, compared to 10.7% of whites.
To conduct their study, the team used Sutter's electronic health record data of COVID-19 tested and confirmed cases within the network. Since nearly 94% of residents in California are insured under private or government health plans, the team also looked at factors that go beyond the lack of health care coverage.
Other factors included race, ethnicity, sex, age, and health conditions. The team gathered data about income level and discovered that African-Americans live with lover income compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
The study did not find a significant difference regarding the mortality rate when it came to race and ethnicity.
Researchers claim that genetic or biological factors may increase the severity of illness among African Americans. However, they also point to societal factors that may delay seeking care, including structural inequities and unconscious biases on the part of providers.