Independent Research— Health Inequality

There is a strong connection between socioeconomic status and health. This correlation has been well documented over the past few decades, and health inequalities have been shown to appear early and peak around the time of early old age (late fifties, early sixties). Among the elderly this correlation diminishes, partly because of social policies like Medicare and Social Security and partly because of self-selection (only the healthiest live to advanced ages).

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more than one way to do something…

This blog post is about stubbornness and a lesson learned anew.

Without getting into the gory details, I was working on an assignment to use a dataset to identify whenever an individual received any of a series of medical procedures or diagnoses using four and five digit medical codes. I started writing the command file optimistic that I would be done in a few hours.  Since the variables  were in text format I had to type in each possible code for a procedure, but about an hour in I realized that there were hundreds if not thousands of codes to enter. Here is where I made my fatal mistake. I didn’t ask my advisors for help. Instead I spent over 12 hours trying to manually enter all of these codes.

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Wrapping Things Up

My seven week fellowship concluded last Friday. As I have discussed previously, I spent the last week examining  racial differences in cardiac procedure utilization. My initial analysis involved running t-tests on black and white utilization rates for the years 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2008. I found that there were significant differences in the rates, although the the magnitude of the difference was relatively small and has been closing in recent years.

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Independent Project Part II

I’ve made a good bit of progress this past week on my independent project part of my fellowship. I have been examining the relationship between race and rates of utilization for various cardiac care procedures. Many papers have discussed the finding that heart attack patients who are black undergo a number of heart procedures at a lower rate than those who are white. Much of the literature on this topic is 5, 10, or 15 years old. As such, I thought it would be interesting to see if anything has changed in recent years. I have access to some data which allows me to look at the years 1997-2008, so I can see if trends have changed over time.

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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.

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