Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 776–783 | Cite as

Racial/Ethnic Differences in Those Accompanying Medicare Patients to the Doctor: Insights from the 2013 Medicare Current Beneficiary’s Survey

  • Tetine Lynn SentellEmail author
  • Chengli Shen
  • Doug Landsittel
  • Mary Helen Mays
  • Janet Southerland
  • Marshaleen Henriques King
  • Deborah A. Taira
Original Paper


Surprisingly little current, population-level detail exists regarding companion accompaniment for health care among Medicare beneficiaries, particularly by race/ethnicity. For respondents in the 2013 Medicare Current Beneficiary’s Survey Access to Care public use data (N = 12,253), multivariable models predicted accompaniment to the doctor by race/ethnicity, adjusting for confounders. Chi square analyses compared, by race/ethnicity, who was accompanying and why. Overall, 37.5% of beneficiaries had accompaniment. In multivariable analyses, non-Hispanic blacks (OR 1.18; 95% CI 1.03–1.36) and Hispanics (OR 1.47; 95% CI 1.25–1.74) were significantly more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have accompaniment. Over 35% of all three groups had someone to “take notes,” “ask questions,” and/or “explain things,” which did not vary by race/ethnicity; significant differences were seen for “explain instructions,” “translate,” and “moral support.” Hispanics had the highest percentages for all three. Many Medicare beneficiaries have accompaniment to doctors’ appointments, particularly in minority racial/ethnic groups, which should be considered in policy and practice.


Medicare Race/ethnicity Caregiving Health communication 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Tetine Sentell, Chengli Shen, Doug Landsittel, Mary Helen Mays, Janet Southerland, Deborah A. Taira declares that they have no conflict of interest. Marshaleen Henriques King received partial support from the “ENTELLIGENCE Young Investigator Award” funded by Actelion.


This research was supported by the Expanding National Capacity in Patient Centered Outcomes Research Through Training (ENACT) Program (grant number R25HS023185 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)) and also from the following National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants: U54MD008149 from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD); 1U54GM104944 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; and P20 MD000173 from NIMHD. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIH or AHRQ.

Ethical approval

Because this was a public use data file from the federal government, it did not meet the criteria of human subjects research and was exempt from IRB approval. Thus, this article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Public Health StudiesUniversity of Hawai‘i at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Section on Biomarkers and Prediction Modeling, Department of MedicineUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Puerto Rico Clinical and Translational Research ConsortiumUniversity of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences CampusSan JuanUSA
  4. 4.School of DentistryMeharry Medical CollegeNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.Morehouse School of MedicineAtlantaUSA
  6. 6.Daniel K. Inouye College of PharmacyUniversity of Hawai‘i at HiloHiloUSA

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