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Investigating health disparities in vestibular rehabilitation.

BACKGROUND: Health disparities (HD) impact care delivery and health outcomes in individuals with vestibular disorders (IVD).

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to identify whether health disparities (HD) exist in Vestibular Rehabilitation (VR) between individuals identifying as Caucasians or racial or ethnic minorities (REM).

METHODS: This study was a retrospective chart review of IVD who attended outpatient VR between 1/2014 and 9/2020. Data recorded included age, gender, race/ethnicity, vestibular diagnosis, VR interventions, and pre-post outcome measures such as Dizziness Handicap Inventory (DHI), and Activities-Specific Balance Confidence Scale (ABC), Gait speed (GS), and Functional Gait Assessment (FGA). Chi-squared tests, one-tailed, and two-tailed t-tests (α= 0.05) were utilized to compare Caucasian and REM groups.

RESULTS: Three hundred and forty-three charts (N = 343) met inclusion/exclusion criteria. REM demonstrated higher median DHI scores (46 vs. 38, p = 0.008) and lower ABC scores (53.10% vs. 66.30%, p <  0.001) at VR evaluation compared to Caucasians. There were no statistically significant differences in DHI, ABC, FGA, and GS scores between Caucasians and REM at discharge.

CONCLUSIONS: VR was able to equalize HD in DHI and ABC which initially existed between REM and Caucasians. VR therapists should work with public health and policy researchers to improve access to VR.

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