Patient Characteristics Associated with Care by a Cardiologist Among Adults Hospitalized with Severe Congestive Heart Failure

Published in: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, v. 36, no. 7, Dec. 2000, p. 2119-2125

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1999

by Andrew D. Auerbach, Mary Beth Hamel, Robert M. Califf, Roger B. Davis, Neil S. Wenger, Norman A. Desbiens, Lee Goldman, Humberto Vidaillet, Alfred F. Connors, Jr., Joanne Lynn, Neal V. Dawson, Russell S. Phillips

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OBJECTIVES: The goal of this study was to determine factors associated with receiving cardiologist care among patients with an acute exacerbation of congestive heart failure. BACKGROUND: Because cardiologist care for acute cardiovascular illness may improve care, barriers to specialty care could impact patient outcomes. METHODS: The authors studied 1,298 patients hospitalized with acute exacerbation of congestive heart failure who were cared for by cardiologists or generalist physicians. Using multivariable logistic models they determined factors independently associated with attending cardiologist care. RESULTS: Patients were less likely to receive care from a cardiologist if they were black (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.35, 0.80), had an income of less than $11,000 (AOR 0.65, 95% CI 0.45, 0.93) or were older than 80 years of age (AOR 0.23, 95% CI 0.12, 0.46). Patients were more likely to receive cardiologist care if they had college level education (AOR 1.89, 95% CI 1.02, 3.51), a history of myocardial infarction (AOR 1.59, 95% CI 1.17, 2.16), a serum sodium less than 133 on admission (AOR 1.96, 95% CI 1.30, 2.95) or a systolic blood pressure less than 90 on admission (AOR 1.97, 95% CI 1.20, 3.24). Patients who stated a desire for life extending care were also more likely to receive care from a cardiologist (AOR 1.40, 95% CI 1.04, 1.90). CONCLUSIONS: After adjusting for severity of illness and patient preferences for care, patient sociodemographic factors were strongly associated with receiving care from a cardiologist. Future investigations are required to determine whether these associations represent unmeasured preferences for care or inequities in our health care system.

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