Racial/ethnic disparities in dementia incidence, outcomes, and health-care utilization

Jay B. Lusk, Cassie Ford, Amy G. Clark, Melissa A. Greiner, Kim Johnson, Margarethe Goetz, Brystana G. Kaufman, Sneha Mantri, Ying Xian, Richard O'Brien, Emily C. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Racial/ethnic disparities exist in many aspects of health care, but data on racial/ethnic disparities for neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs), such as dementia and Parkinson's disease (PD), are limited. Methods: We used North and South Carolina Medicare claims from 2013 to 2017 to evaluate disparities in incidence of NDDs and in health-care utilization and outcomes for patients with NDDs. Results: Disparities in incidence of NDD between Black and White beneficiaries narrowed by 0.37 per 100 person-years from 2014 to 2017. After thorough covariate adjustment, Black beneficiaries had a 4% higher risk of all-cause hospitalization, spent 8% more days in skilled nursing facilities and 14% fewer days in hospice facilities, were 38% less likely to receive physical/occupational therapy services, were 8% less likely to receive dementia medications, and were 19% less likely to receive PD medications than White beneficiaries. Discussion: Effective system-level approaches to promote health equity in NDD diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes are clearly needed. Highlights: Racial disparities in neurodegenerative disease incidence narrowed between 2014 and 2017. Black patients were less likely than White patients to receive hospice services. Black patients were less likely than White patients to receive physical therapy. Black patients were less likely than White patients to receive Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease medications. There is a shortage of neurologists in counties with high dementia incidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Alzheimer's disease and related dementias
  • claims data
  • dementia
  • geographic disparities
  • health equity
  • health-care access
  • health-care facilities
  • health-care use
  • health-care value
  • hospice
  • memory care
  • neurodegenerative disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • racial disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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