Ethnic disparities in stroke: Epidemiology, acute care, and postacute outcomes

James P. Stansbury*, Huanguang Jia, Linda S. Williams, W. Bruce Vogel, Pamela W. Duncan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

220 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose - Evidence for ethnic disparities in stroke incidence, severity, and mortality has continued to mount in recent years. However, the picture for disparities in acute management and rehabilitation remains more ambiguous. The objective of this report is to summarize current evidence from stroke epidemiology and studies focusing on disparities in stroke care and disability, suggesting courses for action. Methods - A comprehensive search of current literature on ethnic/racial variation in stroke incidence, mortality, and severity, as well as acute and postacute patient care was performed. Results - Recent evidence unambiguously reaffirms a greater burden of disease in stroke, greater mortality, and greater severity of strokes for blacks. Evidence for disparities in acute and postacute care is less conclusive, as is the evidence for disparities among other ethnic groups. Evidence for health disparities in stroke care across settings, regions, and the continuum of care varies considerably. Conclusions - Minority ethnic groups have higher rates or more severe stroke, but variations in prognosis for clinical outcomes other than mortality remain less certain. There is considerable need for more studies that take into account regional ethnic variations in treatment and outcomes, and for better documentation of stroke outcomes among groups in addition to blacks. Dealing with ethnic disparities in stroke will be served by sustained attention to quality improvement in high-impact areas in stroke care, complemented by initiatives that promote cultural competence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-386
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnicity
  • Health services research
  • Outcome
  • Racial differences


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