Racial and ethnic disparities in bronchiolitis management in freestanding children's hospitals

Aubree C. Honcoop, Patricia Poitevien, Ellen Kerns, Brian Alverson, Russell J. McCulloh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective: Variation in bronchiolitis management by race and ethnicity within emergency departments (EDs) has been described in single-center and prospective studies, but large-scale assessments across EDs and inpatient settings are lacking. Our objective is to describe the association between race and ethnicity and bronchiolitis management across 37 U.S. freestanding children's hospitals from 2015 to 2018. Methods: Using the Pediatric Health Information System, we analyzed ED and inpatient visits from November 2015 to November 2018 of children with bronchiolitis 3 to 24 months old. Rates of use for specific diagnostic tests and therapeutic measures were compared across the following race/ethnicity categories: 1) non-Hispanic White (NHW), 2) non-Hispanic Black (NHB), 3) Hispanic, and 4) other. The subanalyses of ED patients only and children < 1 year old were performed. Mixed-effect logistic regression was performed to compare the adjusted odds of receiving specific test/treatment using NHW children as the reference group. Results: A total of 134,487 patients met inclusion criteria (59% male, 28% NHB, 26% Hispanic). Adjusted analysis showed that NHB children had higher odds of receiving medication associated with asthma (odds ratio [OR] = 1.27, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.22 to 1.32) and lower odds of receiving diagnostic tests (blood cultures, complete blood counts, viral testing, chest x-rays; OR = 0.78, 95% CI = 0.75 to 0.81) and antibiotics (OR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.52 to 0.64) than NHW children. Hispanic children had lower odds of receiving diagnostic testing (OR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.90 to 0.98), asthma-associated medication (OR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.88 to 0.96), and antibiotics (OR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.66 to 0.82) compared to NHW children. Conclusion: NHB children more often receive corticosteroid and bronchodilator therapies; NHW children more often receive antibiotics and chest radiography. Given that current guidelines generally recommend supportive care with limited diagnostic testing and medical intervention, these findings among NHB and NHW children represent differing patterns of overtreatment. The underlying causes of these patterns require further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1043-1050
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • bronchiolitis
  • health disparities
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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