Social determinants of trauma care: Associations of race, insurance status, and place on opioid prescriptions, postdischarge referrals, and mortality

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND Racial disparities in trauma care have been reported for a range of outcomes, but the extent to which these remain after accounting for socioeconomic and environmental factors remains unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate the unique contributions of race, health insurance, community distress, and rurality/urbanicity on trauma outcomes after carefully controlling for specific injury-related risk factors. METHODS All adult (age, ≥18 years) trauma patients admitted to a single Level I trauma center with a statewide, largely rural, catchment area from January 2010 to December 2020 were retrospectively reviewed. Primary outcomes were mortality, rehabilitation referral, and receipt of opioids in the emergency department. Demographic, socioeconomic, and injury characteristics as well as indicators of community distress and rurality based on home address were abstracted from a trauma registry database. RESULTS Analyses revealed that Black patients (n = 13,073) were younger, more likely to be male, more likely to suffer penetrating injuries, and more likely to suffer assault-based injuries compared with White patients (n = 10,946; all p < 0.001). In adjusted analysis, insured patients had a 28% lower risk of mortality (odds ratio, 0.72; p = 0.005) and were 92% more likely to be referred for postdischarge rehabilitation than uninsured patients (odds ratio, 1.92; p = 0.005). Neither race-nor place-based factors were associated with mortality. However, post hoc analyses revealed a significant race by age interaction, with Black patients exhibiting more pronounced increases in mortality risk with increasing age. CONCLUSION The present findings help disentangle the social determinants of trauma disparities by adjusting for place and person characteristics. Uninsured patients were more likely to die and those who survived were less likely to receive referrals for rehabilitation services. The expected racial disparity in mortality risk favoring White patients emerged in middle age and was more pronounced for older patients. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Prognostic and epidemiological, Level III.
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    Author List

  • Grenn E; Kutcher M; Hillegass WB; Iwuchukwu C; Kyle A; Bruehl S; Goodin B; Myers H; Rao U; Nag S
  • Start Page

  • 897
  • End Page

  • 905
  • Volume

  • 92
  • Issue

  • 5