Clinical and sociocultural determinants of gallstone treatment

A. K. Diehl, T. J. Westwick, R. G. Badgett, Nancy J Sugarek, K. H. Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Cholecystectomy remains the principal treatment for gallstones. Many gallstone patients do not undergo surgery within 6 months of diagnosis. To determine factors associated with cholecystectomy, treated and untreated patients were compared with respect to clinical and sociodemographic factors. The study population was comprised of outpatients of a public system evaluated in an emergency room or at a community health center. All were interviewed in English or Spanish before completing imaging studies. Of 121 found to have gallstones, 75 underwent early cholecystectomy. Patients reporting episodes of prolonged abdominal pain more often had surgery (p < 0.003). Patients evaluated in the emergency room underwent surgery more often than those from the community health center (p < 0.04). Patient ethnicity was unrelated to treatment, but Mexican Americans who requested interviews in Spanish were less likely to undergo cholecystectomy (p < 0.05). After logistic regression, prolonged abdominal pain was the only significant predictor of surgical management, although relationships with language use and site of diagnosis persisted. It was concluded that clinical presentation largely determines surgical treatment for gallstones but site of diagnosis is also a factor. Patients with poor English language skills undergo cholecystectomy less often. This may be due to poor doctor-patient communication, or it may be a reflection of cultural factors linked to language use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-386
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1993


  • Acculturation
  • Cholecystectomy
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Hispanics
  • Language use
  • Mexican Americans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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