Nursing homes with the highest proportion of Black residents have the greatest number of hospitalizations and emergency department visits, according to a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
Staffing levels likely drive the differences in hospitalizations and emergency department visits among nursing homes, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Studies show that nursing homes serving high proportions of Black residents may experience poor healthcare outcomes. To better understand nursing homes’ environmental and structural characteristics that may lead to these outcomes, the researchers examined data from 14,121 U.S. nursing homes using national datasets from 2019.
They found that, compared to nursing homes with no Black residents, nursing homes with at least 50% Black residents had lower ratios of registered nurse (RN) and certified nursing assistant (CNA) hours per resident per day and greater ratios of licensed practical nurse (LPN) hours per resident per day. As the proportion of Black residents in nursing homes increased, hospitalizations and emergency department visits also increased.
Nursing homes serving Black residents were also more likely to be located in urban settings, for-profit in the South, and have more Medicaid-funded residents.
“As lower use of RNs has generally been associated with increased emergency department visits and hospitalizations of nursing home residents, it is likely that the relative scarcity of skilled workers largely drove the differences in hospitalizations and emergency department visits in nursing homes with greater proportions of Black residents,” says Jasmine Travers, PhD, RN, assistant professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and the study’s lead author.
“Staffing is a modifiable area in which federal and state agencies should take action to eliminate disparities in quality of care among nursing homes,” adds Travers.