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Do Health Care Ratings Differ by Race or Ethnicity?

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Background: There is growing evidence that Asians and Pacific Islanders perceive their health care more negatively than whites and other racial and ethnic subgroups. This study of differences in health care experiences by race and ethnicity was the first to use nationally representative data.

Method: Data from the 1998 National Research Corporation Healthcare Market Guide® survey were analyzed. A total of 120,855 respondents were included in the study. Four global satisfaction ratings (overall health plan satisfaction, medical care satisfaction, recommend plan to others, and intent to switch plans) and four composite measures (access to care, providers' delivery of care, customer service, and cost/benefits of care) were examined.

Results: Nonwhite survey respondents—particularly those in the other/multiracial and Asian/Pacific Islander groups—rated their health plan coverage and medical care lower than whites.

Discussion: The results of this study are consistent with those of other recent (and comparable) studies in which these racial and ethnic groups are represented. Most strikingly consistent, however, are the lower ratings of Asians/Pacific Islanders and the comparable (and higher) ratings (compared to whites) of African Americans. Why Asians/Pacific Islanders are considerably less satisfied with their medical care than all other racial and ethnic groups in the United States needs to be explored. Access to care and quality of care improvement efforts should be directed at all ethnic minority groups, particularly for limited English-speaking, other/multiracial, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander subgroups.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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