Racial disparities in stress test utilization in an emergency department chest pain unit

Anthony M. Napoli, Esther K. Choo, Jessica Dai, Bethany Desroches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Epidemiological studies have demonstrated racial disparities in the workup of emergency department patients with chest pain and the referral of admitted patients for intervention. However, little is known about possible disparities in stress test utilization in low-risk chest pain patients admitted to emergency department chest pain units. Methods: A retrospective observational study of consecutive chest pain unit patients was conducted. Eligibility criteria included age >18 years, American Heart Association low-to-intermediate risk, nondynamic electrocardiograms, and normal initial troponin I. Patients aged >75 years with a history of coronary artery heart disease were excluded. On each patient, we calculated a Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) risk prediction score and a Diamond and Forrester (D&F) score for likelihood of coronary artery disease. Two separate multivariate analyses were completed, one including the TIMI score and the other including D&F score, using logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) for receiving testing based on race, controlling for other relevant covariates. Results: Two thousand four hundred fifty-one patients were enrolled over a planned 1.5-year period. In total, 59.7% [95% confidence interval (CI) 57.8-61.7] of patients were white, 11.6% (95% CI 10.4-12.9) African American, and 28.6% (95% CI 26.9-30.4) "other." The overall stress testing rate was 50.3% (95% CI 48.4-52.3). After controlling for insurance and TIMI or D&F scores, African American patients had significantly decreased odds of stress testing (ORTIMI 0.68, 95% CI 0.52-0.89; ORD&F 0.67, 95% CI 0.51-0.89). Conclusions: Our study confirms racial disparities in the utilization of stress testing in the chest pain unit. Further investigation is needed to identify specific provider or patient-level factors that may contribute to this disparity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-13
Number of pages5
JournalCritical Pathways in Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • chest pain
  • disparity
  • observation
  • racial
  • stress test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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