Health Disparities and Sepsis: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on the Influence of Race on Sepsis-Related Mortality

  • Panagis Galiatsatos
  • Junfeng Sun
  • Judith Welsh
  • Anthony Suffredini



Racial disparities in sepsis outcomes have been previously reported. However, recently, there have been inconsistencies in identifying which socioeconomic variables, such as race, account for these disparities. The objective of this study was to perform a systematic review in order to examine the impact of race on sepsis-attributable mortality.


Systematic searches for English-language articles identified through MEDLINE, EBSCOhost, PubMed, ERIC, and Cochrane Library databases from 1960 to 1 February 2017. Included studies examined sepsis outcomes in the context of sepsis incidence and/or mortality. Two investigators independently extracted data and assessed study quality. The meta-analysis was performed in accordance with the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines.


Twenty-one studies adhered to the predefined selection criteria and were included in the review. Of the 21 studies, we pooled data from 6 studies comparing African American/Black race as a risk factor for sepsis-related mortality disparities (reference group being Caucasian/White). From the meta-analysis on these six studies, African American/Black race was found to have no statistical significant relationship with sepsis-related mortality (odds ratio 1.20, 95% CI, 0.81 to 1.77). Similar results were found for other races (Native Americans, Asians) and ethnicities (Hispanic/Latinos).


On the basis of available evidence from a limited number of observation retrospective studies, race alone cannot fully explain sepsis-related disparities, especially sepsis-attributable mortality.


Sepsis Race Mortality 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


The Intramural Research Programs of National Institutes of Health (Clinical Center, Critical Care Medicine Department) supported this work. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institutes of Health or the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Competing Interests

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care MedicineJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Critical Care Medicine Department, Clinical CenterNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  3. 3.Medicine for the Greater Good at Johns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Office of Research Services, NIH LibraryNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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