Ethnic Disparities

Published online in World Journal of Surgery on 8 February 2014

J.J. Leow, V.W. Lim, P. Lingam, K.T.S. Go, L.T. Teo
Trauma Services, Department of General Surgery, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore



Ethnic disparities in trauma mortality outcomes have been demonstrated in the United States according to the US National Trauma Data Bank. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of race/ethnicity on trauma mortality in Singapore.


This was a retrospective review of patients aged 18–64 years with an injury severity score (ISS) C9 in the Trauma Registry of Tan Tock Seng Hospital, a 1,300-bed trauma center in Singapore, from 2006 to 2010. Chinese, Malay, and Indian patients were compared with patients of other ethnic groups. Multiple logistic regression analyses determined differences in survival rates after adjusting for demographics, anatomic and physiologic ISS and revised trauma score, mechanism or type of injury.


A total of 4,186 patients (66.4 % of the database) met the inclusion criteria. Most patients were male (76.3 %) and young (mean age 40 years). Using Chinese as the reference group, we found no statistically significant differences in unadjusted or adjusted mortality rates among the ethnic groups. Independent predictors of mortality included age [odds ratio (OR) 1.05, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.03–1.06, p\0.0001], presence of severe head injury (OR 1.75, 95 % CI 1.13–2.69, p = 0.012), and increasing ISS (p\0.0001).


Ethnicity is not an independent predictor of trauma mortality outcomes in the Singapore population. Our findings contrast with those from the United States, where race/ethnicity (Black and Hispanic) remains a strong independent risk factor for trauma mortality. This study attests to the success of the Singapore health care/trauma system in delivering the same quality of care regardless of ethnicity.

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