Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 20, Issue 10, pp 895–900

Patients’ attitudes toward health care providers collecting information about their race and ethnicity

  • David W. Baker
  • Kenzie A. Cameron
  • Joseph Feinglass
  • Patricia Georgas
  • Shawn Foster
  • Deborah Pierce
  • Jason A. Thompson
  • Romana Hasnain-Wynia
Original Articles

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Experts recommend that health care providers (HCPs) collect patients’ race/ethnicity, but HCPs worry that this may alienate patients.

OBJECTIVE: To determine patients’ attitudes toward HCPs collecting race/ethnicity data.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.

PARTICIPANTS: General Internal Medicine patients (n = 220).

MEASUREMENTS: Perceived importance of having HCPs collect race/ethnicity data, their concerns about this, comfort level providing this information, and reactions to 4 statements explaining the rationale for collecting this.

RESULTS: Approximately 80% somewhat or strongly agreed that HCPs should collect information on patients’ race/ethnicity. However, 28% had significant discomfort (score 5 or less on 10-point scale) reporting their own race/ethnicity to a clerk, and 58% were somewhat or very concerned that this information could be used to discriminate against patients. Compared with whites, blacks, and Hispanics felt less strongly that HCPs should collect race/ethnicity data from patients (P=.04 for both pairwise comparisons), and blacks were less comfortable reporting their own race/ethnicity than whites (P=.03). Telling patients that this information would be used for monitoring quality of care improved comfort more than telling patients that the data collected (a) was mandated by others, (b) would be used to guide staff hiring and training, and (c) would be used to ensure the patient got the best care possible.

CONCLUSIONS: Most patients think HCPs should collect information about race/ethnicity, but many feel uncomfortable giving this information, especially among minorities. Health care providers can increase patients’ comfort levels by telling them this will be used to monitor quality of care.

Key Words

race ethnic groups data collection 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine; 2003.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Panel on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Medical Care. The Right to Equal Treatment. Washington, DC: Physicians for Human Rights; 2004.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fiscella K, Franks P, Gold MR, et al. Inequality in quality: addressing socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic disparities in health care. JAMA. 2000;283:2579–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bierman AS, Lurie N, Collins KS, et al. Addressing racial and ethnic barriers to effective health care: the need for better data. Health Aff (Millwood). 2002;21:91–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Panel on DHHS Collection of Race and Ethnicity Data. Eliminating Health Disparities: Measurement and Data Needs. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2004.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ashton CM, Haidet P, Paterniti DA, et al. Racial and ethnic disparities in the use of health services: bias, preferences, or poor communication? J Gen Intern Med. 2003;18:146–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hasnain-Wynia R, Pierce D, Pittman MA. Who, What, When, Where: The Current State of Data of Collection on Race and Ethnicity in Hospitals. New York, NY: Commonwealth Fund; 2004.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Atkinson JO, MacDorman MF, Parker JD. Trends in births to parents of two different races in the United States: 1971–1995. Ethnic Disparities. 2001;11:273–85.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bureau US Census. US census quick facts. 2003. Available at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html. Accessed March 31, 2005.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    League of Women Voters. Classification by race, ethnicity, color, or national origin. League of women voters 2003. Available at http://ca.lwv.org/lwvc/edfund/elections/2003/pc/prop54.html. Accessed March 31, 2005.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Public Opinion Strategies. Key findings from a national survey conducted among adults who have health insurance coverage on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the issue of disparities in health care. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 2005. Available at http://www.rwjf.org/news/POSfullMemo.pdf. Accessed March 31, 2005.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Office of Management and Budget. Revisions of the standards for classification of federal data on race and ethnicity. Fed Regist. 1997;62:587–9.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Betancourt JR. Cultural competence—marginal or mainstream movement? N Engl J Med. 2004;351:953–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Boulware LE, Cooper LA, Ratner LE, et al. Race and trust in the health care system. Public Health Rep. 2003;118:358–65.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Doescher MP, Saver BG, Franks P, et al. Racial and ethnic disparities in perceptions of physician style and trust. Arch Fam Med. 2000;9:1156–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Keating NL, Gandhi TK, Orav EJ, et al. Patient characteristics and experiences associated with trust in specialist physicians. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:1015–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jones JH. Bad Blood, The Tuskeegee Syphilis Study. Revised Edition. New York, NY: The Free Press; 1993.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Harrison RW, Impact of biomedical research on African Americans. J Natl Med Assoc. 2001;93(suppl):6–7S.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Immigrant Healthcare Attacked. Las Culturas.com. 2004. 10-150004. Available at http://www.lasculturas.com/aa/press_nclr_091404.htm. Last accessed March 31, 2005.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Texas Health & Safety Code. 108.009(k), 2004.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David W. Baker
    • 2
  • Kenzie A. Cameron
    • 2
  • Joseph Feinglass
    • 2
  • Patricia Georgas
    • 2
  • Shawn Foster
    • 1
  • Deborah Pierce
    • 1
  • Jason A. Thompson
    • 2
  • Romana Hasnain-Wynia
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Research and Educational TrustChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwestern UniversityChicago

Personalised recommendations