Demographic differences in health outcomes have been reported for chronic diseases, but few data exist on these differences in trauma (defined as acute, life-threatening injuries).


To investigate the relationship between the systemic inflammatory response syndrome score after trauma and race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.


A retrospective chart review of 600 patients from a level I trauma center (1997–2007) was conducted. Inclusion criteria were age 18 to 44 years, Injury Severity Score 15 or greater, and admission to an intensive care unit. Exclusion criteria were use of transfusions, spinal cord injuries, comorbid conditions affecting the inflammatory response, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and missing data (final sample, 246 charts/patients). Systemic inflammatory response syndrome was measured by using the systemic inflammatory response syndrome score. Race was self-reported. Socioeconomic status was defined by insurance and employment. Descriptive statistics, Wilcoxon rank sum, Kruskal-Wallis, and χ2 tests were used for analysis.


Compared with whites, African Americans (n = 94) had fewer occurrences of the syndrome (P = .04) and a 14% lower white blood cell count on admission to the intensive care unit (mean, 15 200/μL; 95% CI, 14 400/μL to 16 000/μL vs mean 17 700/μL; 95% CI, 16 700/μL to 18 700/μL; P < .001).


Demographic differences exist in the systemic inflammatory response syndrome score after trauma. Additional studies in larger populations of patients are needed as well as basic science and translational research to determine potential mechanisms that may explain the differences.

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