Racial minorities other than the white community are found to be less likely to get dermatological help for psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease. The findings of this study are further discussed in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Additionally, whites averaged about double the number of doctor's appointments for psoriasis overall compared with non-Hispanic minorities. Rates were similar between white and Hispanic individuals.
‘Decreased dermatological visits of racial minorities for a chronic inflammatory disease such as psoriasis may indicate the racial gaps that may exist in psoriasis care.’Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes skin cells to multiply faster than normal resulting in raised, red patches covered by silvery scales. It occurs most commonly in a symmetrical manner on the scalp, knees, and elbows but can appear anywhere on the body including the face, genitals, nails, and other places.
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It also has profound effects on health-related quality of life, and in moderate to severe cases, it carries an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and premature death. The National Psoriasis Foundation estimates psoriasis affects about 7.5 million Americans.
"While psoriasis is less common among minorities, previous research has shown their disease can be more severe. Despite that, this study shows minorities are less likely to see a dermatologist for treatment," said the study's senior author Junko Takeshita, MD, Ph.D., MSCE, an assistant professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology at Penn.
The study's lead author was Alexander H. Fischer, MD, MPH, who was a medical student at Johns Hopkins University at the time of the research.
The researchers gathered data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a complete source of data currently available on healthcare utilization, cost, and insurance coverage in the United States. All of the information is self- or caregiver-reported over a series of interviews, and is designed to be representative of the general population. The team used information from 2001 through 2013 and identified 842 psoriasis individuals representing over 1.6 million Americans.
In addition to the rates for dermatological visits, whites also averaged approximately twice as many visits to a doctor overall. Researchers found whites averaged 2.69 visits per year, compared to 1.87 for Hispanics and 1.30 for non-Hispanic minorities. In total, this amounts to over 3 million fewer visits per year for psoriasis among non-Hispanic racial minorities compared with whites.
The researchers say more research is needed to understand what may be contributing to these disparities, and if the gap in medical care is directly contributing to the increased severity of disease among minorities.
"Ultimately, increasing awareness of these disparities is the first step in trying to provide equitable care and improve outcomes for all individuals with psoriasis," Takeshita said.