Dig Dis Sci. 2021 Oct 11. doi: 10.1007/s10620-021-07264-z. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Urban-rural differences in IBD-specific health care utilization at the national level have not been examined in the USA.
AIMS: We compared urban and rural rates of IBD-related office visits and IBD-specific (Crohn's disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC)) hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits.
METHODS: From multiple national data sources, we compared national rates using Z test and compared estimates of patient and hospital characteristics and hospitalization outcomes between urban and rural areas using Chi-square and t tests.
RESULTS: In 2015 and 2016, digestive disease-related office visit rates, per 100 adults, were 3.1 times higher in urban than in rural areas (8.7 vs 2.8, P < 0.001). In 2017, age-adjusted rates per 100,000 adults were significantly higher in rural than urban areas for CD-specific hospitalizations (26.3 vs 23.6, P = 0.03) and ED visits (49.3 vs 39.5, P = 0.002). Compared with their urban counterparts, rural adults hospitalized for CD or UC in 2017 were more likely to be older and non-Hispanic white, have lower household income, Medicare coverage, and an elective admission, and were discharged from hospitals that were large, non-federal government owned, and in the Midwest or South. There were no significant urban-rural differences in length of stay and 30-day readmission rate.
CONCLUSIONS: While IBD or digestive disease-related office visit rates were lower in rural compared to urban areas, CD-specific hospitalization and ED visit rates were higher. Strategies that improve office-based care among rural patients with IBD may help to avoid more costly forms of health care use.
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