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Journal of Gerontology Series B

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Objectives—Numerous studies have documented disparities in health care utilization between non-Hispanic White and minority elders. We investigated differences in anti-dementia medication use between non-Hispanic White and minority community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries with dementia.

Methods—Using multivariate analysis with generalized estimating equations, we estimated prevalence ratios (PRs) for anti-dementia medication use by race/ethnicity for 1,120 beneficiaries with dementia from years 2001 through 2003 of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey.

Results—After adjusting for demographics, socioeconomics, health care access and utilization, comorbidities, and service year, we found that anti-dementia medication use was approximately 30% higher among non-Hispanic Whites compared to other racial/ethnic groups (PR = 0.73, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.59, 0.91). As for individual racial/ethnic groups, prevalence disparities remained significant for non-Hispanic Blacks (PR = 0.75, 95% CI = 0.57, 0.99) and non-Hispanic others (PR = 0.50, 95% CI = 0.26, 0.96) but were attenuated for Hispanics (PR = 0.84, 95% CI = 0.59, 1.20).

Discussion—Results provide evidence that racial/ethnic disparities in utilization of drugs used to treat dementia exist and are not accounted for by differences in demographic, economic, health status, or health utilization factors. Findings provide a foundation for further research that should use larger numbers of minority patients and consider dementia type and severity, access to specialty dementia care, and cultural factors.


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Gerontology Series B following peer review. The version of record Zuckerman IH, Ryder PT, Simoni-Wastila L, Shaffer T, Sato M, Zhao L, Stuart B. Racial and ethnic disparities in treatment of dementia among Medicare beneficiaries. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2008,63(5):S328-33. is available online at