Use of health care utilization as a metric of intervention success may perpetuate racial disparities: An outcome evaluation of a homeless transitional care program.
OBJECTIVE: This study explored race-based differences in disease burden, health care utilization, and mortality for Black and White persons experiencing homelessness (PEH) who were referred to a transitional care program, and health care utilization and program outcomes for program participants. DESIGN: This was a quantitative program evaluation. SAMPLE: Black and White PEH referred to a transitional care program (n = 450). We also analyzed data from the subgroup of program participants (N = 122). Of the 450 referrals, 122 participants enrolled in the program. MEASURES: We included chronic disease burden, mental illness, substance use, health care utilization, and mortality rates for all PEH referred. For program participants, we added 6-month pre/post health care utilization and program outcomes. All results were dichotomized by race. RESULTS: Black PEH who were referred to the program had higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, renal failure, and HIV and similar post-referral mortality rates compared to White PEH. Black and White PEH exhibited similar program outcomes; however, Black PEH revisited the emergency department (ED) less frequently than White PEH at 30 and 90 days after participating in the program. CONCLUSIONS: Health care utilization may be a misleading indicator of medical complexity and morbidity among Black PEH. Interventions that rely on health care utilization as an outcome measure may unintentionally contribute to racial disparities.
Nohria, R; Biederman, DJ; Sloane, R; Thibault, A
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)