Hospitalizations for bacterial pneumonia in Texas towns bordering Mexico three times higher than the national average

Research Activities, March 2011, No. 367

Pneumonia and influenza are the 7th leading cause of death in Texas border towns within 62 miles of the Mexico-United States border. Hospitalization for bacterial pneumonia among elderly patients from Texas counties bordering Mexico is three times the national average, according to a study of hospital discharge data. An increase of just one primary care physician per 1,000 inhabitants was associated with a 33 percent reduction in pneumonia-associated hospitalization rates. Yet, an increase in hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants had no effect. This is significant, because immunization-preventable bacterial pneumonia is one of the AHRQ indicators of quality preventive care.

The study also found that each 10 percent increase in the county's proportion of Hispanic residents was associated with a 0.1 percent increase in this hospitalization rate. After adjustment for other factors, hospitalization rates were found to be higher for residents aged 75 or older, males, and Hispanics (vs. whites or blacks). Public health initiatives and practices that support placing more primary care physicians in border communities may contribute to lowering hospitalization rates for bacterial pneumonia and, thus, reducing health care costs, the researchers concluded.

Their findings were based on U.S. hospitalization data for 1999-2001 from a database of the Texas Department of State Health Services, which included patients' ZIP code of residence at hospital admission. Limiting the data to persons aged 65 or older resulted in 10,749 hospital discharges for analysis. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16381, HS11618).

More details are in "Correlates of bacterial pneumonia hospitalizations in elders, Texas border," by Frank C. Lemus, Ph.D., Alai Tan, M.D., Ph.D., Karl Eschbach, Ph.D., and others in the August 2010 Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 12(4), pp. 423-432.

Current as of March 2011
Internet Citation: Hospitalizations for bacterial pneumonia in Texas towns bordering Mexico three times higher than the national average: Research Activities, March 2011, No. 367. March 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/mar11/0311RA10.html