Switching Gears

After spending the majority of my fellowship assisting my advisors, I am spending the final week working on an independent project. I am examining the  racial differences in utilization of several “high technology” procedures used in treating heart attacks. Studies have shown in the past that minority races tend to have lower  usage rates for these procedures.  I am examining the use of cardiac catheterization, PTCA, and CABG procedures. My goals are to identify if this utilization gap amongst different races is still a problem today, and if so, identify some potential reasons.

There are several reasonable hypotheses. The differences could be due to differing income levels.  Often individuals pay for some of the costs of a procedure out of pocket. Thus, the higher income an individual has, the more likely they may be to undergo expensive procedures. Another possibility is that a certain amount of racial prejudice exists within the medical community. We tend to view doctors as objective and unbiased, but racism still could come into play in how to treat a patient.  I am currently in the process of examining some data I have access to, and hope to share some interesting findings in the next few days.


  1. ekcarey says:


    I was just curious how you analyze the selected cardiac procedures by race. Where do you locate the data and do you need special permission to access or utilize it?

    The hypotheses you offer are very interesting (and if proven could help solve real social/healthcare problems!). How will you try to determine the real cause of this trend? I’m intrigued to know the results.

    Good luck with everything!