The role of geographic disparities in outcomes after orthopaedic trauma surgery

Published:November 08, 2022DOI:


      • The aim of this study was to examine the correlation between patient rurality, socioeconomic status, and outcomes after orthopedic trauma.
      • A nationally representative sample, representing over 1 million patients, was used to build population-weighted logistic regression models.
      • Rural patients with hip fracture were 32% more likely to die than urban patients with hip fracture (P < 0.001).
      • Patients with low income were 23% more likely to die than patients with high income (p = 0.002) in the urban polytrauma group.
      • Objective measures of disparity-sensitive healthcare are needed to ensure optimal care for all orthopedic trauma patients.



      Healthcare disparities linked to patient rurality and socioeconomic status are known to exist, but few studies have examined the effect of urban versus rural status on outcomes after orthopedic trauma surgery. The aim of this study was to examine the correlation between patient rurality, socioeconomic status, and outcomes after orthopedic trauma.

      Materials and methods

      This is a retrospective cohort study of patients diagnosed with a hip or long bone fracture between January 2016 and December 2017. Data were collected from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), a 20% weighted sample of 95% of the U.S. inpatient population. Patients were stratified into 3 groups: isolated hip fracture, isolated long bone fracture, and polytrauma. Bivariate analysis was completed using chi-squared tests for categorical variables and t-tests for continuous variables. Multivariable analysis was completed using population-weighted logistic regression models, based on a conceptual model derived selection of covariates.


      We included 235,393 patients diagnosed with a hip or extremity fracture. These were weighted to represent 1,176,965 patients nationally. In the hip fracture group, rural patient status was associated with higher odds of mortality (OR 1.32, P < 0.001) but not complications (OR 0.95, P = 0.082). In the extremity fracture and polytrauma groups, rural patient status was not associated with significantly higher odds of mortality or complications. In the urban polytrauma group, zip code with below-median income was associated with increased odds of mortality (OR 1.23, P = 0.002) but not complications. In the rural polytrauma group, zip code with below-median income was not associated with significantly increased odds of mortality or complications. In the hip fracture and extremity fracture groups, below-median income was not associated with significantly higher odds of mortality.


      We found that rural patients with hip fracture have higher mortality compared to urban patients and that socioeconomic disparities in mortality after a polytrauma exist in urban settings. These results speak to the ongoing need to develop objective measures of disparity-sensitive healthcare and optimize trauma systems to better serve low-income patients and patients in rural areas.


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