Among patients with diabetes, racial/ethnic discrimination by health care providers is uncommon
Research Activities, November 2011
Discrimination has been suggested as one of the potential explanations for the presence of racial/ethnic health and health care disparities in the United States. In a group of almost 18,000 patients with diabetes enrolled in Kaiser Permanente Northern California, 3 percent reported health care discrimination from doctors or health care providers and 20 percent reported general discrimination in everyday life. All racial and ethnic groups (Blacks, Latinos, East Asians, and Filipinos) reported discrimination more frequently than whites. Blacks reported general discrimination most frequently (52 percent) and Filipinos reported health care provider discrimination most frequently (8 percent). Individuals who reported general discrimination were significantly more likely to also report health care provider discrimination. Health care discrimination was more often reported not only by minorities, but also by those with poorer health literacy, limited English proficiency, and depression.
These findings suggest that perceived health care provider discrimination was uncommon, especially when compared with general discrimination. The researchers conclude that a provider's careful attention to patient factors such as limited health literacy and language barriers may reduce perceptions of health care discrimination. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13853). See "Correlates of patient-reported racial/ethnic health care discrimination in the Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE)," by Courtney R. Lyles, Ph.D., Andrew J. Karter, Ph.D., Bessie A. Young, M.D., M.P.H., and others in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 22, pp. 211-225, 2011.