Health care experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic by race and social determinants of health among adults age ≥ 58 years in the REGARDS study

Academic Article


  • Background: Understanding health care experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic may provide insights into patient needs and inform policy. The objective of this study was to describe health care experiences by race and social determinants of health. Methods: We conducted a telephone survey (July 6, 2020-September 4, 2021) among 9492 Black and White participants in the longitudinal REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke cohort study, age 58–105 years, from the continental United States. Among participants with symptoms of COVID-19, outcomes were: 1. Sought care or advice for the illness; 2. Received a SARS-CoV-2 test for the illness; and 3. Tested positive. Among participants without symptoms of COVID-19, outcomes were: 1. Wanted a test; 2. Wanted and received a test; 3. Did not want but received a test; and 4. Tested positive. We examined these outcomes overall and in subgroups defined by race, household income, marital status, education, area-level poverty, rural residence, Medicaid expansion, public health infrastructure ranking, and residential segregation. Results: The average age of participants was 76.8 years, 36% were Black, and 57% were female. Among participants with COVID-19 symptoms (n = 697), 74% sought care or advice for the illness, 50% received a SARS-CoV-2 test, and 25% had a positive test (50% of those tested). Among participants without potential COVID-19 symptoms (n = 8795), 29% wanted a SARS-CoV-2 test, 22% wanted and received a test, 8% did not want but received a test, and 1% tested positive; a greater percentage of participants who were Black compared to White wanted (38% vs 23%, p < 0.001) and received tests (30% vs 18%, p < 0.001) and tested positive (1.4% vs 0.8%, p = 0.005). Conclusions: In this national study of older US adults, many participants with potential COVID-19 symptoms and asymptomatic participants who desired testing did not receive COVID-19 testing.
  • Published In

  • BMC Public Health  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Levitan EB; Howard VJ; Cushman M; Judd SE; Tison SE; Yuan Y; Kamin Mukaz D; Wang HE; Pamir N; Plante TB
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 1