Racial Disparities Found in Diagnosis Time and Dermatologic Care for Hidradenitis Suppurativa

By Rob Dillard - December 27, 2022

A new study shows that non-white patients with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) have longer delays in diagnosis, and that Black patients in particular fail to undergo dermatologic care early on in their HS disease course. The findings were reported in the Journal of the National Medical Association.

“Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic, debilitating skin disease that disproportionately affects African Americans, and care-related factors may contribute to this disparity,” said the investigators.

In this study, the researchers assessed the delay in diagnosis and dermatologic care for HS at an urban Midwestern Academic Center. They performed a retrospective review of 1,190 patients with three or more encounters for HS between January 2022, and March 19, 2019. Final analysis consisted of 953 patients.

The researchers observed that for white patients, the delay in diagnosis was 3.2 ± 6.3 years, compared with 4.8 ± 7.0 years for Black patients, 4.7 ± 5.8 years for Hispanic patients, and for other races 4.9 ± 7.4 years. Among the 932 patients with known specialist visit types, 53.6% had seen dermatology, including 222 (47.8%) of Black 59.5%of white patients, 64.9% of Hispanic patients, but only 47.8% of Black patients. The investigators noted that White patients and Hispanic patients saw a dermatologist an average of three years after first presentation of HS and Black patients saw a dermatologist on average five years after first presentation.

“Our results indicate that non-white patients have a longer delay in diagnosis than their white counterparts and that Black patients do not see dermatology as early in their disease course as other racial groups. Black patients also see surgery more often than white patients before seeing dermatology, which could suggest greater disease severity at presentation and diagnosis or difficult access to dermatology,” the researchers concluded.

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