Nursing Home Closures More Likely in Minority, Poor Areas

Risk of closure greater in areas with high proportions of blacks, Hispanics or high poverty

FRIDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Nursing home closures appear to be concentrated in neighborhoods with higher minority populations and/or lower wealth, according to research published online Jan. 10 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Zhanlian Feng, Ph.D., of Brown University in Providence, R.I., and colleagues examined data on nursing home facility closures from 1999 to 2008 to determine whether such closures were geographically concentrated and related to characteristics of the community, such as racial and ethnic mix and level of wealth.

The researchers found that 1,176 freestanding nursing homes closed over that decade (11 percent), compared with 1,126 hospital-based facilities (almost 50 percent). Zip code areas with a higher proportion of Hispanics or blacks or a higher poverty rate had a significantly higher relative risk of nursing home closure. These closures tended to be clustered in minority-concentrated zip codes around the urban core, frequently in areas of concentrated poverty.

"Nursing home closures are geographically concentrated in minority and poor communities. Since nursing home use among the minority elderly population is growing while it is declining among whites, these findings suggest that disparities in access will increase," the authors write.

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