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Minorities and the poor find communicating with doctors more difficult

Research Activities, July 2009, No. 347

Patient-provider communication influences quality of care, but black and Asian patients were more likely than white patients to report communication difficulties with their doctors in 2005, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Good communication is important for the medical care provider to understand the patient's needs, wants, and preferences, and for the patient to understand and participate in his or her own care.

AHRQ found that roughly 13 percent of blacks and Asians reported communication problems with their doctors in 2005, compared with 9 percent of whites. Moreover, the gap between blacks and whites widened between 2002 and 2005. In contrast, the gap between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adults narrowed. Even so, about 12 percent of Hispanic adults reported difficulties communicating with their doctors in 2005. AHRQ's analysis also showed that:

  • Roughly twice as many poor people as high-income people, regardless of their race or ethnicity, reported communication problems in 2005 (15 percent vs. 7 percent).
  • Among high school graduates, blacks (13 percent) and Hispanics (12 percent) were more likely than, whites (9 percent) to report poor communication with their health providers.
  • Among people with less than a high school education, blacks were more likely than whites to report communication problems (18.6 percent vs. 12.5 percent).

These findings are based on data from the 2008 National Healthcare Disparities Report (), which examines the disparities in Americans' access to and quality of health care, with breakdowns by race, ethnicity, income, and education.

Current as of July 2009
Internet Citation: Minorities and the poor find communicating with doctors more difficult: Research Activities, July 2009, No. 347. July 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/jul09/0709RA46.html