Racial Disparities in Uterine Fibroid Treatment Among Veterans Using VA Health Care

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Women's health issues


INTRODUCTION: Uterine fibroids are common, nonmalignant tumors that disproportionately impact Black patients. We aimed to examine Black and White differences in receipt of any treatment and type of first treatment in the Department of Veterans Affairs, including effect modification by severity as approximated by anemia.

METHODS: We used Department of Veterans Affairs administrative data to identify 5,041 Black and 3,206 White veterans with symptomatic uterine fibroids, identified by International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition, Clinical Modification, codes, between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2012 and followed in the administrative data through fiscal year 2018 for outcomes. Outcomes included receipt of any treatment, hysterectomy as first treatment, and fertility-sparing treatment as first treatment. We stratified all analyses by age (<45, ≥45 years old), used generalized linear models with a log link and Poisson error distribution, included an interaction term between race and anemia, and used recycled predictions to estimate adjusted percentages for outcomes.

RESULTS: There was evidence of effect modification by anemia for receipt of any treatment but not for any other outcomes. Across age and anemia sub-groups, Black veterans were less likely to receive any treatment than White veterans. Adjusted racial differences were most pronounced among veterans with anemia (<45 years, Black-White difference = -10.3 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, -15.9 to -4.7; ≥45 years, Black-White difference = -20.3 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, -27.8 to -12.7). Across age groups, Black veterans were less likely than White veterans to have hysterectomy and more likely to have a fertility-sparing treatment as their first treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: We identified significant Black-White disparities in receipt of treatment for symptomatic uterine fibroids. Additional research that centers the experiences of Black veterans with uterine fibroids is needed to inform strategies to eliminate racial disparities in uterine fibroid care.

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ePub ahead of print