J Hosp Med. 2021 Oct 13. doi: 10.12788/jhm.3717. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States experience a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 deaths.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether outcome differences between Hispanic and non-Hispanic COVID-19 hospitalized patients exist and, if so, to identify the main malleable contributing factors.
DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS: Retrospective, cross-sectional, observational study of 6097 adult COVID-19 patients hospitalized within a single large healthcare system from March to November 2020.
EXPOSURES: Self-reported ethnicity and primary language.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Clinical outcomes included intensive care unit (ICU) utilization and in-hospital death. We used age-adjusted odds ratios (OR) and multivariable analysis to evaluate the associations between ethnicity/language groups and outcomes.
RESULTS: 32.1% of patients were Hispanic, 38.6% of whom reported a non-English primary language. Hispanic patients were less likely to be insured, have a primary care provider, and have accessed the healthcare system prior to the COVID-19 admission. After adjusting for age, Hispanic inpatients experienced higher ICU utilization (non-English-speaking: OR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.47-2.08; English-speaking: OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 0.95-1.33) and higher mortality (non-English-speaking: OR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.10-1.86; English-speaking: OR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.19-1.98) compared to non-Hispanic inpatients. There were no observed treatment disparities among ethnic groups. After adjusting for age, Hispanic inpatients had elevated disease severity at admission (non-English-speaking: OR, 2.27; 95% CI, 1.89-2.72; English-speaking: OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.10-1.61). In multivariable analysis, the associations between ethnicity/language and clinical outcomes decreased after considering baseline disease severity (P < .001).
CONCLUSION: The associations between ethnicity and clinical outcomes can be explained by elevated disease severity at admission and limited access to healthcare for Hispanic patients, especially non-English-speaking Hispanics.