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Anesth Analg. 2012 Jan;114(1):172-8. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e318239dc7c. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Racial and ethnic disparities in neuraxial labor analgesia.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. p-toledo@md.northwestern.ed



Racial and ethnic disparities in the treatment of pain have been well documented, and there is evidence of such disparities in neuraxial analgesia use. Our objectives of this study were to analyze racial/ethnic disparities in neuraxial analgesia use, as well as anticipated use, among laboring Hispanic, African-American, and Caucasian women, and to evaluate sociodemographic, clinical, and decision-making predictors of actual and anticipated neuraxial analgesia use among these women.


Laboring women, in a large urban academic hospital, were interviewed using a face-to-face survey to determine individual factors that may influence choice of labor analgesia. After delivery, the type of labor analgesia used was recorded. The primary outcome was use of neuraxial analgesia. Multivariable logistic regression models were estimated to test the likelihood that race and ethnicity were significantly associated with neuraxial analgesia use, anticipated neuraxial analgesia use, and the intrapartum decision to use neuraxial analgesia.


There was a univariate association between race/ethnicity and anticipated as well as actual use of neuraxial analgesia. However, there was no association between race/ethnicity and the intrapartum decision to use neuraxial analgesia. After controlling for confounders, the association between race/ethnicity and actual use of neuraxial analgesia no longer remained significant (adjusted odds ratio: Hispanic versus Caucasian women 0.66, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.24 to 1.80; African-American versus Caucasian women 0.93, 95% CI: 0.31 to 2.77). In contrast, Hispanic women were less likely than Caucasian women to anticipate using neuraxial analgesia even after controlling for confounders (adjusted odds ratio 0.40, 95% CI: 0.20 to 0.82).


After controlling for confounding variables, Hispanic women anticipated using neuraxial analgesia at a lower rate than other racial/ethnic groups; however, actual use was similar among groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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