Physician referral patterns and race differences in receipt of coronary angiography

Thomas A. LaVeist, Athol Morgan, Melanie Arthur, Stephen Plantholt, Michael Rubinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective. This study addresses the following research questions: (1) Is race a predictor of obtaining a referral for coronary angiography (CA) among patients who are appropriate candidates for the procedure? (2) Is there a race disparity in obtaining CA among patients who obtain a referral for the procedure? Study Setting. Three community hospitals in Baltimore, Maryland. Study Design. We abstracted hospital records of 7,927 patients from three hospitals to identify 2,653 patients who were candidates for CA. Patients were contacted by telephone to determine if they received a referral for CA. Logistic regression was used to assess whether racial differences in obtaining a referral were affected by adjustment for several potential confounders. A second set of analyses examined race differences in use of the procedure among a subsample of patients that obtained a referral. Principal Findings. After controlling for having been hospitalized at a hospital with in-house catheterization facilities, ACC/AHA (American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association) classification, sex, age, and health insurance status, race remained a significant determinant of referral (OR = 3.0, p < .05). Additionally, we found no significant race differences in receipt of the procedure among patients who obtained a referral. Conclusions. Our results demonstrate that race differences in utilization of CA tend to occur during the process of determining the course of treatment. Once a referral is obtained, African American patients are not less likely than white patients to follow through with the procedure. Thus, future research should seek to better understand the process by which the decision is made to refer or not refer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-962
Number of pages14
JournalHealth services research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Coronary angiography
  • Physician behavior
  • Racial differences
  • Referral patterns
  • Surgical procedures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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