Racial minorities less likely to see a doctor for psoriasis

December 13, 2017, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
A case of severe psoriasis. Credit: Penn Medicine

Despite the fact that their disease may be more severe, a new study shows minorities are less likely than white Americans to see a doctor for psoriasis treatment. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that black, Asian, and other non-Hispanic minorities are about 40 percent less likely to see a dermatologist for psoriasis than whites. 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. Researchers published their findings this week in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Psoriasis is a 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. 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, PhD, 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, the most 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.

An average of 50.8 percent of whites saw a dermatologist for their psoriasis, compared to just 38.3 percent for non-Hispanic minorities, which include blacks, Asians, native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and others. Among Hispanics, 46.7 percent saw a for their psoriasis.

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.

"When you combine the results of our study with the knowledge that psoriasis severity and quality of life impact suggest a larger burden of psoriasis among minorities, it brings into focus the racial gaps that exist in psoriasis care," Takeshita said.

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 ," Takeshita said.

Explore further: Psoriasis severity linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes

More information: Alexander H. Fischer et al, Health care utilization for psoriasis in the United States differs by race: An analysis of the 2001-2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.07.052

Related Stories

Psoriasis severity linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes

November 14, 2017
People with psoriasis are at a higher risk to develop type 2 diabetes than those without psoriasis, and the risk increases dramatically based on the severity of the disease. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine ...

Black children less likely to see doctor for eczema despite being more severely affected

September 29, 2017
A new study shows white children in America are more likely to see a doctor for treatment of eczema than black children, despite the fact that the disease is likely more severe among minorities. Research from the Perelman ...

Severity of psoriasis linked to increased risk of death

August 29, 2017
The more the surface area of the body is covered by psoriasis, the greater the risk of death for the patient suffering from the condition, according to a new analysis by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the ...

Severe psoriasis predominantly affects men

March 24, 2017
The fact that men are overrepresented in psoriasis registers and consume more psoriasis care have long led researchers to believe that the common skin disease disproportionally affects men. A unique study with 5,438 Swedish ...

Psoriasis and psychiatric illnesses—what are the links?

August 11, 2017
A new review examines the potential link between psoriasis and mental health conditions.

Secukinumab effective for moderate / severe scalp psoriasis

September 29, 2017
(HealthDay)—Secukinumab is safe and effective as a treatment for patients with extensive moderate-to-severe scalp psoriasis, according to a study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of ...

Recommended for you

How long is an Ebola survivor contagious? One case is causing scientists to rethink the answer.

August 14, 2018
Surviving Ebola isn't like getting over the flu.

Why do women get more migraines?

August 14, 2018
Research published today reveals a potential mechanism for migraine causation which could explain why women get more migraines than men. The study, in Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, suggests that sex hormones affect ...

Study shows how MERS coronavirus evolves to infect different species

August 14, 2018
In the past 15 years, two outbreaks of severe respiratory disease were caused by coronaviruses transmitted from animals to humans. In 2003, SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus) spread from civets to infect ...

Inching closer to a soft spot in isoniazid-resistant tuberculosis

August 14, 2018
Antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis is a public health threat. TB and other bacteria become resistant to antibiotics by evolving genetic changes over time, which they can do quite quickly because bacterial lifecycles are short. ...

Link between common 'harmless' virus and cardiovascular damage

August 13, 2018
Researchers from Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) have found an unexpectedly close link between a herpes virus and the occurrence of immune cells damaging cardiovascular tissue.

Rotavirus vaccine cuts infant diarrhoea deaths by a third in Malawi

August 11, 2018
A major new study has shown that rotavirus vaccination reduced infant diarrhoea deaths by 34% in rural Malawi, a region with high levels of child deaths.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.