Does universal insurance mitigate racial differences in minimally invasive hysterectomy?

Document Type



General Surgery


Study objective: To determine if racial differences exist in receipt of minimally invasive hysterectomy (defined as total vaginal hysterectomy [TVH] and total laparoscopic hysterectomy [TLH]) compared with an open approach (total abdominal hysterectomy [TAH]) within a universally insured patient population.
Design: Retrospective data analysis (Canadian Task Force classification II-2).
Setting: The 2006-2010 national TRICARE (universal insurance coverage to US Armed Services members and their dependents) longitudinal claims data.
Patients: Women aged 18 years and above who underwent hysterectomy stratified into 4 racial groups: white, African American, Asian, and "other."
Intervention: Receipt of hysterectomy (TAH, TVH, or TLH).
Measurements and main results: We used risk-adjusted multinomial logistic regression models to determine the relative risk ratios of receipt of TVH and TLH compared with TAH in each racial group compared with referent category of white patients for benign conditions. Among 33 015 patients identified, 60.82% (n = 20 079) were white, 26.11% (n = 8621) African American, 4.63% (n = 1529) Asian, and 8.44% (n = 2786) other. Most hysterectomies (83.9%) were for benign indications. Nearly 42% of hysterectomies (n = 13 917) were TAH, 27% (n = 8937) were TVH, and 30% (n = 10 161) were TLH. Overall, 36.37% of white patients received TAH compared with 53.40% of African American patients and 51.01% of Asian patients (p < .001). On multinomial logistic regression analyses, African American patients were significantly less likely than white patients to receive TVH (relative risk ratio [RRR], .63; 95% confidence interval [CI], .58-.69) or TLH (RRR, .65; 95% CI, .60-.71) compared with TAH. Similarly, Asian patients were less likely than white patients to receive TVH (RRR, .71; 95% CI, .60-.84) or TLH (RRR, .69; 95% CI, .58-.83) compared with TAH. Analyses by benign indications for surgery showed similar trends.
Conclusion: We demonstrate that racial minority patients are less likely to receive a minimally invasive surgical approach compared with an open abdominal approach despite universal insurance coverage. Further work is warranted to better understand factors other than insurance access that may contribute to racial differences in surgical approach to hysterectomies.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University


Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology