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Variation in receipt of pharmacotherapy for alcohol use disorders across racial/ethnic groups: A national study in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration.

Williams EC, Gupta S, Rubinsky AD, Glass JE, Jones-Webb R, Bensley KM, Harris AHS. Variation in receipt of pharmacotherapy for alcohol use disorders across racial/ethnic groups: A national study in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2017 Sep 1; 178:527-533.

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Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: Pharmacologic treatment is recommended for alcohol use disorders (AUD), but most patients do not receive it. Although racial/ethnic minorities have greater AUD consequences than whites, whether AUD medication receipt varies across race/ethnicity is unknown. We evaluate this in a national sample. METHODS: Electronic health records data were extracted for all black, Hispanic, and/or white patients who received care at the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VA) during Fiscal Year 2012 and had a documented AUD diagnosis. Mixed effects regression models, with a random effect for facility, determined the likelihood of receiving AUD pharmacotherapy (acamprosate, disulfiram, topirimate or oral or injectable naltrexone = 180days after AUD diagnosis) for black and Hispanic patients relative to white patients. Models were unadjusted and then adjusted for patient- and facility-level factors. RESULTS: 297,506 patients had AUD; 26.4% were black patients, 7.1% were Hispanic patients and 66.5% were white patients; 5.1% received AUD medications. Before adjustment, black patients were less likely than white [Odds Ratio (OR) 0.77; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.75 -0.82; (p < 0.001)], while Hispanic patients were more likely than white (OR 1.09; 95% CI 1.01-1.16) to receive AUD medications. After adjustment, black patients remained less likely than white to receive AUD medications (OR 0.68; 95% CI 0.65-0.71; p < 0.0001); no difference between Hispanic and white patients was observed (OR 0.94; 95% CI 0.87-1.00; p = 0.07). CONCLUSIONS: In this national study of patients with AUD, blacks were less likely to receive AUD medications than whites. Future research is needed to identify why these disparities exist.





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