Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic variations in hospital length of stay: A state-based analysis

Arnab K. Ghosh, Benjamin P. Geisler, Said Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


ABSTRACT: Disparities by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES) exist in rehospitalization rates and inpatient mortality rates. Few studies have examined how length of stay (LOS, a measure of hospital efficiency/quality) differs by race/ethnicity and SES.This study's objective was to determine whether differences in risk-adjusted LOS exist by race/ethnicity and SESUsing a retrospective cohort of 1,432,683 medical and surgical discharges, we compared risk-adjusted LOS, in days, by race/ ethnicity and SES (median household income by patient ZIP code in quartiles), using generalized linear models controlling for demographic and clinical factors, and differences between hospitals and between diagnoses.White patients were on average older than both Black and Hispanic patients, had more chronic conditions, and had a higher inpatient mortality risk. In adjusted analyses, Black patients had a significantly longer LOS than White patients (0.25-day difference when discharged to home and 0.23-day difference when discharged to non-home destinations, both P<.001); there was no difference between Hispanic and White patients. Wealthier patients had a shorter LOS than poorer patients (0.16-day difference when discharged to home and 0.06-day difference when discharged to nonhome destinations, both P<.001). These differences by race/ethnicity reversed for Medicaid patients.Disparities in LOS exist based on a patient's race/ethnicity and SES. Black and poorer patients, but not Hispanic patients, have longer LOS compared to White and wealthier patients. In aggregate, these differences may be related to trust and implicit bias and have implications for use of LOS as a quality metric. Future research should examine the drivers of these disparities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25976
Number of pages8
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • disparities
  • hospital
  • length of stay
  • race
  • socioeconomic status


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