Ethnicity/race, use of pharmacotherapy, scope of physician-ordered cholesterol screening, and provision of diet/nutrition or exercise counseling during US office-based visits by patients with hyperlipidemia

Megan N Willson, Joshua J Neumiller, David A Sclar, Linda M Robison, Tracy L Skaer
American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs: Drugs, Devices, and Other Interventions 2010, 10 (2): 105-8

BACKGROUND: Elevation of serum cholesterol, or hyperlipidemia, is recognized as one of the major modifiable risk factors in the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. On a US population basis, there has been a downward trend in total- and LDL-cholesterol levels, and an increase in cholesterol screening. Nevertheless, previous research suggests that there remain racial/ethnic disparities in the access to and quality of care for hyperlipidemia.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the extent of racial/ethnic disparities in the provision of pharmacotherapy, cholesterol screening and diet/nutrition or exercise counseling during US office-based physician-patient encounters (visits) by patients with hyperlipidemia.

METHODS: We examined data from the 2005 US National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for office-based visits for hyperlipidemia for patients aged > or =20 years in terms of prescribing for hyperlipidemia, and the ordering/provision of cholesterol testing, diet/nutrition counseling, and exercise counseling.

RESULTS: Use of pharmacotherapy for hyperlipidemia varied by ethnicity/race (chi2, p < 0.05). Physician-ordered/provided cholesterol screening occurred in 44.2% of all office-based visits; 46.5% for Whites, 35.4% for Blacks, and 30.3% for Hispanics (chi2, p < 0.05). Diet/nutrition counseling was ordered/provided in 39.7% of office-based visits; 40.4% for Whites, 32.6% for Blacks, and 39.0% for Hispanics (chi2, p < 0.05). Exercise counseling was ordered/provided in 32.1% of office-based visits; 32.7% for Whites, 27.2% for Blacks, and 30.6% for Hispanics (chi2, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings reveal a disparity in use of pharmacotherapy for hyperlipidemia, physician-ordered/provided cholesterol screening, diet/nutrition counseling, and exercise counseling by ethnicity/race. Further research is required to discern, in greater detail, reasons for the observed differences reported, and to ensure equitable access to established standards of care.

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