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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | Personals | Yellow Pages  November 13, 2003
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Gender and Geography Affect Health Care
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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Previous studies have shown race impacts health care in the United States, and a new study adds to those findings. Researchers now say gender and geography also impact health care treatments.

Researchers from Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center looked at the most common joint replacement surgery -- total knee replacement. They analyzed more than 430,000 knee arthroplasties that were done between 1998 and 2000, paying particular attention to the region, gender, race, and ethnic group of the patients. They found varying rates of surgery among blacks, whites and Hispanics. In addition, gender and geographic location seem to have a major impact on the prevalence of surgery, even within the same race.

Results of the study show rates of knee replacement surgery were equal to or slightly higher among black women in Columbia, S.C., New York City, and Los Angeles. However, rates of knee replacements among black men in the same cities were less than half those of white men. In Memphis, rates for black men were less than one-third those for white men and were lower among black women when compared to white women.

James Weinstein, D.O., M.S., one of the lead authors of the study, says, "We know that knee replacements are a more common operation for women than for men, but even adjusting for that, the differences in the rates for black men and black women in the same cities are dramatic." Researchers say more than 30 percent of the 70 million Americans who suffer from arthritis and chronic joint pain are black. However, in every region of the country, black males are below the norm for having the surgery.

Jonathan Skinner, Ph.D., co-author of the study, says geographic location also plays a vital role. He says, "An important message of the study is that disparities exist not just because the color of your skin or the language you speak, but also because of your ZIP code."

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, 2003;349:1350-1359

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