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Minorities Are Not Satisfied With Their Health Care

Thursday, April 10, 2008 by: Jo Hartley
Tags: health care, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Minority patients are more likely than white patients to rate their received health care as fair to poor. This is particularly true of Chinese-Americans, blacks born in Africa, and Vietnamese-American patients.

Researchers at Harvard University surveyed 4,334 people in 2007. Surveyors asked patients questions such as how quickly they were able to schedule appointments and whether their doctor explained details in a manner that was understandable to them. Generally, whites rated their experiences higher than most minorities.

Unlike previous similar studies, the Harvard study utilized much more detailed categories instead of broadly categorizing the different ethnic groups. For example, African-Americans were separated into three different categories those born in the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States.

The researchers believe the additional detail is important to the results because the most effective ways to reduce these disparities will be based on the different experiences and needs of the different minority groups.

91 percent of whites rated the care they received as either excellent or good. Chinese-Americans rated their care at 74 percent, African-Americans born in Africa were 73 percent, and Vietnamese-Americans were 72 percent.

According to the study, 63 percent of whites were able to get doctor appointments the same day or the day after they needed care. This percentage was 42 for Cuban-Americans and 39 for African-Americans born in the Caribbean.

Approximately three-quarters of whites surveyed reported that their physicians listened carefully to them. This dropped to 62 percent for Korean-Americans and 58 percent for patients from Central or South America.

The results of the Harvard study are consistent with previous studies of how minorities perceive their health care. Because the findings are consistent, it is not reasonable to blame the patients. They have reported their experiences in several different studies. The solution lies with the health care providers.

The Harvard study also revealed that there are ways that health care providers can improve their patients' perceptions. One key issue is that of language barriers. Physicians should be incorporating translation services into their health care practices.

This should be considered by even those physicians who are not part of large practices. There are phone banks designed to improve the communication between physicians and their patients. Services such as these are paid for personally by physicians, but government health programs should reimburse physicians who use these services.

Researchers have long agreed that the key to improving health care is improving patients' perceptions of their care. This is because a negative experience usually leads to less time spent with a doctor as well as poor communication between the physician and patient. Improving this rift is the first step toward improving health care.

This study is expected to be published in the journal Health Affairs.

About the author

Jo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!
http://loftymatters.com - Current Events
http://winemaiden.com - Simply Abundant Living

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