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Research Letter
June 29, 2020

Assessment of Racial Differences in Rates of Autopsy in the US, 2008-2017

Author Affiliations
  • 1The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • 3Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 4Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 29, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.2239

In contrast to forensic autopsies mandated by law, clinical autopsies are performed to clarify diagnoses. Rates of clinical autopsies have declined, from a high of 19% (1950s-1970s) to 8% (2007).1 This decrease is related to financial, legal, and administrative disincentives, as well as perceptions that diagnostic improvements render autopsies obsolete.2 In the background of low enthusiasm from the health care system, patient/caregiver factors may be related to the rates of autopsies. Limited data suggest that white race is associated with lower autopsy rates.3 Using a cohort design, we explored the rates of autopsies for differences within racial groups.

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