Rural health disparities in health care utilization for dementia in Minnesota Academic Article uri icon

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  • Purpose

    We visualized rural-urban differences in inpatient hospitalization and emergency department (ED) health care utilization (HCU) for older adults with dementia to understand the HCU of rural versus urban older adults in Minnesota and to examine in greater detail the variability of HCU in rural areas.


    For 3 older adult age groups, we utilized Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (H-CUP) datasets from 2016 to 2018 to profile hospital admission rates, and ED visit rates related to dementia stratified by rurality and regions. Rates were visualized by spatial interpolation method. We then used logistic regression analysis adjusted by multiple covariates to evaluate rural-urban differences of the chance of having a dementia diagnosis in HCU.


    Minnesota rural areas showed 17.6% lower age-adjusted rate (AAR) of dementia mortality than urban areas. AARs of ED visits for dementia were 12.4% higher in rural ZIP codes, whereas AARs of hospitalization were 24.7% lower. After controlling for neighborhood-level risk factors, such as income, education, health behaviors, and provider access, the odds ratios of having dementia diagnosis are 12% lower if an ED visit patient lives in rural as opposed to an urban area (OR = 0.88, P<.0001).


    In comparison to AAR, the fully adjusted data showed larger rural-urban predictors of having dementia diagnoses in hospitalizations and ED utilizations and demonstrated differences between AAR of ED visit and odds ratios of having dementia diagnosis. A regional comparison revealed that dementia ED visits were higher for Northeast MN compared to Minnesota's largest metropolitan region.


  • Rhew, Sung Han
  • Jacklin, Kristen
  • Bright, Patrick
  • McCarty, Catherine
  • Henning‐Smith, Carrie
  • Warry, Wayne

publication date

  • July 19, 2022