Effect of chronic disease on racial difference in COVID-19–associated hospitalization among cancer patients.

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JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute


Background: Research indicates that Black cancer patients have higher rates of COVID-19 hospitalization than their White counterparts. However, the extent to which chronic diseases contribute to racial disparities remains uncertain. We aimed to quantify the effect of chronic diseases on racial disparity in COVID-19-associated hospitalization among cancer patients. Methods: We linked Louisiana Tumor Registry's data with statewide COVID-19 data and hospital in-patient discharge data to identify patients diagnosed with cancer in 2015-2019 who tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020 and those with COVID-19-associated hospitalization. Multivariable logistic regression and mediation methods based on linear structural equations were employed to assess the effects of the number of chronic diseases (0, 1-2, ≥3) and individual chronic diseases. Results: Of 6381 cancer patients who tested positive for COVID-19, 31.6% were non-Hispanic Black cancer patients. Compared with non-Hispanic White cancer patients, non-Hispanic Black cancer patients had a higher prevalence of chronic diseases (79.5% vs 66.0%) and higher COVID-19-associated hospitalization (27.2% vs 17.2%). The odds of COVID-19-associated hospitalization were 80% higher for non-Hispanic Black cancer patients than non-Hispanic White cancer patients (odds ratio = 1.80, 95% confidence interval = 1.59 to 2.04). After adjusting for age, sex, insurance, poverty, obesity, and cancer type, number of chronic diseases explained 37.8% of the racial disparity in COVID-19-associated hospitalization, and hypertension, diabetes, and chronic renal disease were the top 3 chronic diseases explaining 9.6%, 8.9%, and 7.3% of the racial disparity, respectively. Conclusion: Chronic diseases played a substantial role in the racial disparity in COVID-19-associated hospitalization among cancer patients, especially hypertension, diabetes, and renal disease. Understanding and addressing the root causes are crucial for targeted interventions, policies, and health-care strategies to reduce racial disparity.

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Oxford University Press / USA