Disparities in Access to Trauma Centers

Bottom Line: An analysis of census tract data for neighborhoods in America’s three largest cities suggests black-majority neighborhoods are associated with disparities in access to trauma centers. The study paired census tract data for New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago with coordinates for trauma centers within a five-mile buffer. Black-majority neighborhoods were more likely than white-majority neighborhoods to be located in so-called trauma deserts in Chicago and Los Angeles, although racial/ethnic disparities were only significant in New York after accounting for poverty and its interaction with race. This suggests that New York’s extensive trauma network may limit racial/ethnic disparities by ensuring access to low-income neighborhoods. New York is more densely populated than Los Angeles and Chicago. Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods were less likely to be in  trauma deserts in New York and Los Angeles but slightly more likely in Chicago. A limitation of the study is that it only shows associations and causal inferences can’t be drawn. This study suggests trauma planning should address racial equity.

Authors: Elizabeth L. Tung, M.D., M.S., University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, and coauthors


(doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0138)