Correlates of Emergency Department Service Utilization Among U.S. Chinese Older Adults

Dexia Kong, Mengting Li, Yin Ling Irene Wong, Jinjiao Wang, Benjamin C. Sun, Xinqi Dong

Publication Date: 01/01/2018

Older adults visit emergency departments (EDs) at a disproportionally higher rate than other age groups. Prior studies examining racial disparities in ED utilization focus on African Americans and Hispanics. There is a dearth of information on ED utilization patterns among older Asian Americans despite the evidence that ED expenditures in Asian Americans are comparable to that of Caucasians. To address this knowledge gap, we examined factors associated with ED service utilization in the largest Asian subgroup, U.S. Chinese older adults. Cross-sectional data from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (PINE) (N = 3,157) were used. Multivariate negative binomial regression analyses were conducted to examine significant factors associated with ED use. Higher education (rate ratio [RR] = 1.03, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.00–1.05) and acculturation levels (RR = 1.02, CI 1.00–1.04), fewer people in the household (RR = 0.94, CI 0.88–0.99), health insurance coverage (RR = 1.34, CI 1.01–1.78), lower income (RR = 0.89, CI 0.80–0.99), poorer perceived health (RR = 0.67, CI 0.58–0.77), more functional limitations (RR = 1.09, CI 1.06–1.13) and depressive symptoms (RR = 1.04, CI 1.02–1.07), and a history of heart disease (RR = 2.28, CI 1.83–2.84), stroke (RR = 1.68, CI 1.20–2.35), cancer (RR = 1.86, CI 1.31–2.63), and hip fracture (RR = 1.42, CI 1.02–1.98) were associated with higher rates of ED visits. Our findings highlight several significant correlates of ED use in U.S. Chinese older adults. Culturally-appropriate interventions modifying these factors have the potential to decrease ED visits and improve care outcomes in this population.