Publication Abstract

Authors: Pollack CE, Bekelman JE, Epstein AJ, Liao K, Wong YN, Armstrong K

Title: Racial disparities in changing to a high-volume urologist among men with localized prostate cancer.

Journal: Med Care 49(11):999-1006

Date: 2011 Nov

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Patients who receive surgery from high-volume surgeons tend to have better outcomes. Black patients, however, are less likely to receive surgery from high-volume surgeons. OBJECTIVE: Among men with localized prostate cancer, we examined whether disparities in use of high-volume urologists resulted from racial differences in patients being diagnosed by high-volume urologists and/or changing to high-volume urologists for surgery. RESEARCH DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare data. SUBJECTS: A total of 26,058 black and white men in Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare diagnosed with localized prostate cancer from 1995 to 2005 that underwent prostatectomy. Patients were linked to their diagnosing urologist and a treating urologist (who performed the surgery). MEASURES: Diagnosis and receipt of prostatectomy by a high-volume urologist, and changing between diagnosing and treating urologist RESULTS: After adjustment for confounders, black men were as likely as white men to be diagnosed by a high-volume urologist; however, they were significantly less likely than white men to be treated by a high-volume urologist [odds ratio 0.76; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.67-0.87]. For men diagnosed by a low-volume urologist, 46.0% changed urologists for their surgery. Black men were significantly less likely to change to a high-volume urologist (relative risk ratio 0.61; 95% CI, 0.47-0.79). Racial differences appeared to reflect black and white patients being diagnosed by different urologists and having different rates of changing after being diagnosed by the same urologists. CONCLUSIONS: Lower rates of changing to high-volume urologists for surgery among black men contribute to racial disparities in treatment by high-volume surgeons.