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

Bug guts shed light on Central America Chagas disease

October 18, 2018
In Central America, Chagas disease, or American trypanosomiasis, is spread by the "kissing bug" Triatoma dimidiata. By collecting DNA from the guts of these bugs, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases ...

Rapid genomic sequencing of Lassa virus in Nigeria enabled real-time response to 2018 outbreak

October 18, 2018
Mounting a collaborative, real-time response to a Lassa fever outbreak in early 2018, doctors and scientists in Nigeria teamed up with researchers at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and colleagues to rapidly sequence the ...

Researchers cure drug-resistant infections without antibiotics

October 17, 2018
Biochemists, microbiologists, drug discovery experts and infectious disease doctors have teamed up in a new study that shows antibiotics are not always necessary to cure sepsis in mice. Instead of killing causative bacteria ...

How drug resistant TB evolved and spread globally

October 17, 2018
The most common form of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) originated in Europe and spread to Asia, Africa and the Americas with European explorers and colonialists, reveals a new study led by UCL and the Norwegian Institute ...

Infectious disease consultation significantly reduces mortality of patients with bloodstream yeast infections

October 17, 2018
In a retrospective cohort study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Infectious Diseases, patients with candidemia—a yeast infection in the bloodstream—had more positive outcomes as they relate ...

Marker may help target treatments for Crohn's patients

October 16, 2018
Crohn's disease (CD), a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestinal tract, has emerged as a global disease, with rates steadily increasing over the last 50 years. Experts have long suspected that CD likely represents ...

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.