Background: Appalachian residents have a higher overall cancer burden than the rest of the United States because of the unique features of the region. Treatment delays vary widely within Appalachia, with colorectal cancer patients undergoing median treatment delays of 5 days in Kentucky compared to 9 days for patients in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina combined. Objective: This study identified the source of this disparity in treatment delay using statistical decomposition techniques. Methodology: This study used linked 2006 to 2008 cancer registry and Medicare claims data for the Appalachian counties of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina to estimate a 2-part model of treatment delay. An Oaxaca Decomposition of the 2-part model revealed the contribution of the individual determinants to the disparity in delay between Kentucky counties and the remaining 3 states. Results: The Oaxaca Decomposition revealed that the higher percentage of patients treated at for-profit facilities in Kentucky proved the key contributor to the observed disparity. In Kentucky, 22.3% patients began their treatment at a for-profit facility compared to 1.4% in the remaining states. Patients initiating treatment at for-profit facilities explained 79% of the observed difference in immediate treatment (<2 days after diagnosis) and 72% of Kentucky's advantage in log days to treatment. Conclusions: The unique role of for-profit facilities led to reduced treatment delay for colorectal cancer patients in Kentucky. However, it remains unknown whether for-profit hospitals' more rapid treatment converts to better health outcomes for colorectal cancer patients.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health