Divergent poststroke outcomes for black patients: Lower mortality, but greater disability

James F. Burke*, Chunyang Feng, Lesli E. Skolarus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


ObjectiveTo explore racial differences in disability at the time of first postdischarge disability assessment.MethodsThis was a retrospective cohort study of all Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries hospitalized with primary ischemic stroke (ICD-9,433.x1, 434.x1, 436) or intracerebral hemorrhage (431) diagnosed from 2011 to 2014. Racial differences in poststroke disability were measured in the initial postacute care setting (inpatient rehabilitation facility, skilled nursing facility, or home health) with the Pseudo-Functional Independence Measure. Given that assignment into postacute care setting may be nonrandom, patient location during the first year after stroke admission was explored.ResultsA total of 390,251 functional outcome assessments (white = 339,253, 87% vs black = 50,998, 13%) were included in the primary analysis. At the initial functional assessment, black patients with stroke had greater disability than white patients with stroke across all 3 postacute care settings. The difference between white and black patients with stroke was largest in skilled nursing facilities (black patients 1.8 points lower than white patients, 11% lower) compared to the other 2 settings. Conversely, 30-day mortality was greater in white patients with stroke compared to black patients with stroke (18.4% vs 12.6% [p < 0.001]) and a 3 percentage point difference in mortality persisted at 1 year. Black patients with stroke were more likely to be in each postacute care setting at 30 days, but only very small differences existed at 1 year.ConclusionsBlack patients with stroke have 30% lower 30-day mortality than white patients with stroke, but greater short-term disability. The reasons for this disconnect are uncertain, but the pattern of reduced mortality coupled with increased disability suggests that racial differences in care preferences may play a role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1664-E1674
Issue number18
StatePublished - Oct 29 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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