Study: Black nursing home residents less likely to get flu shots

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Black nursing home residents are less likely than their white counterparts to receive or be offered influenza vaccinations, a new study finds.

In addition, black nursing home residents are more likely to live in facilities with lower vaccination rates. They also were more likely to refuse flu shots than white nursing home residents, according to researchers at Brown University. Investigators are concerned that blacks are disproportionately vulnerable to flu outbreaks, according to the study, which is the first nationwide study to analyze disparities over multiple years.

The Brown researchers looked at Minimum Data Set figures from 2006 to 2009, as well as data from 2007 to 2008 Online Survey Certification and Reporting system to tease out racial differences in long-stay (90 days) nursing home residents.

“Our findings extend previous work by revealing that the facility-level vaccination rate in a nursing home tends to decrease as the proportion of black residents increases,” the report states. “Moreover, we found that even within a given nursing home with residents of both races, blacks are less likely than whites to receive flu vaccinations.”

Further study is needed, researchers noted, but the findings suggest nursing home should do more to educate patients and build trust among healthcare staff, they added.  The study was published this week in the journal Health Affairs.