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Measuring quality of care from a new perspective: An examination of racial differences in consumer empowerment in the American health system

Lisa C. Gary, MS, MPH, Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, 60 College St. PO Box 208034, New Haven, CT 06520, 203-787-9943, lisa.gary@yale.edu and Mark Schlesinger, PhD, School of Medicine, Yale University, 60 College Street, New Haven, CT 06520.

Background: Recent studies suggest that the racial differences in health outcomes are in part due to racial minorities receiving lower quality medical care than their white counterparts. To understand the origins of racial disparities in care, it is important to assess whether minority patients are experiencing a higher rate of problematic treatment in the first instance; and secondly to identify significant system barriers that may prevent them from voicing dissatisfaction about bad care received. This study explores these issues. Data Source: Data are from the Yale/New York Academy of Medicine Survey of Consumer Experiences in Health Care, a telephone survey of approximately 5000 individuals representing the US non-institutionalized population. Results and Implications: Initial analyses show that minority (African American) consumers experience more problems with their health care than whites. The problems with their health care range from delays in care to being treated unfairly due to their race. These racial differences are studied in 3 domains of health care experiences: interactions with physicians, health plans and hospitals. Preliminary analysis also shows that minority consumers often feel mislead by their health plans when trying to address a health care problem. This research will be beneficial for developing interventions within health plans and hospitals that encourage a sense of agency and empowerment for minority health care consumers and non-minority consumers as well. Additionally, consumer empowerment can have significant effects on medical care practice. For instance, empowered consumers may adhere to medical treatment and participate more actively in their own care.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Health Care Quality, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Measuring Quality of Care

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA