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Research Letter
Health Care Policy and Law
July 19, 2021

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Outpatient Visit Rates Across 29 Specialties

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, Internal Medicine Residency Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 3Department of Community Health, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts
  • 4City University of New York at Hunter College, New York City
  • 5Planned Parenthood South Texas, San Antonio
JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 19, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.3771

Access to the full range of medical specialties is a cornerstone of high-quality medical care. However, many patients, especially members of racial and ethnic minority groups, face barriers to such care. We examined nationwide racial/ethnic disparities in outpatient visit rates to 29 physician specialties.

We pooled data on adults 18 years or older from the 2015 to 2018 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), which collects demographic (including self-reported race/ethnicity) and health care utilization data from a nationally representative sample of the noninstitutionalized, civilian US population. We tabulated office and outpatient department visits to each physician specialty and calculated adjusted rate ratios (ARRs) for each racial/ethnic minority group (compared with the White population) using negative binomial regression adjusted for age. In sensitivity analyses, we adjusted for sex, self-reported health, health insurance, education level, and income.

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