Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Once In The Doctor's Office, Racial And Ethnic Disparities In Care Nearly Disappear: Stanford Study

Date:
July 5, 2005
Source:
Stanford University Medical Center
Summary:
A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found that once U.S. patients visit a doctor for outpatient care, their race and ethnicity make little difference in the quality of care they receive. But the study also found that health-care providers have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to caring for all of their patients. In fact, it suggests there were only limited improvements in outpatient care during the 10-year study period.

STANFORD, Calif. - A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found that once U.S. patients visit a doctor for outpatient care, their race and ethnicity make little difference in the quality of care they receive. But the study also found that health-care providers have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to caring for all of their patients. In fact, it suggests there were only limited improvements in outpatient care during the 10-year study period.

"We observed similar, though less-than-optimal, outpatient care across all racial and ethnic groups using visit-based, physician-provided national data," said Jun Ma, MD, PhD, research associate at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and lead author of the study that appears in the June 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The results should be interpreted carefully, Ma said, as the data set represents only a small snapshot of the nation's health-care landscape-namely, those who obtained care in the first place.

Ma and her collaborator Randall Stafford MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, designed the study to fill in some details on outpatient care missing from two annual government reports: the National Healthcare Quality Report, and the National Healthcare Disparities Report. These reports collectively documented both a substandard level of care from providers across the country, and a pervasive gap in quality between whites and minorities. For example, the disparities report found that minorities are more likely than whites to die from HIV/AIDS, and they are also less likely to receive routine childhood immunizations.

While their study confirms a suboptimal quality of outpatient care overall, Ma and Stafford were surprised by the results regarding equality of care. "When we set out to do the study, we expected to see these disparities," Ma said. "But our result was contrary to our hypothesis."

The researchers compared outpatient data from 1992 and 2002, broken down by race and ethnicity. Of 23 quality measures designated by the researchers, such as appropriate prescription of antidepressants and dietary counseling for example, only two showed significant statistical differences with regard to race. First, blacks were more likely to receive angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors to treat congestive heart failure, and whites were less likely to receive unnecessary antibiotics to treat common colds.

As unexpected as this result might be, it does not mean that racial and ethnic health-care disparities do not exist, Ma cautioned. "A lack of statistical significance does not automatically mean there is a lack of clinical or political significance," she said. "It is a very complex issue."

Ma added that the study does not provide any information about initial access to health care, since outpatient information accounts only for patients who have already accessed the system. This might be an important distinction. "We speculate that racial and ethnic disparities may arise more from unequal health-care access and utilization than from direct differences in treatment once a patient is in the system," she said.

This gap in access and use could be due to many factors. For example, minorities might have difficulty communicating effectively with their health-care provider, they might lack access to educational materials or they might not have adequate insurance coverage to begin with, Ma said.

To better understand the problem, she believes there are several important questions to ask. First, what underlying factors stand in the way of equitable access to health coverage? Second, why do patients with adequate insurance coverage not seek treatment when it is needed? Third, why do patients sometimes fail to return for proper follow-up care?

So far, no study has been able to offer a clear explanation as to what causes disparities in health care - either in terms of access or treatment quality. To answer this question, Ma suggests more research. The key, she said, is more detailed data that better represent the nation's minority populations as a whole, not just those who receive outpatient care. She also sees the need for data that follow individual patients through an entire treatment cycle, from first visit to final outcome, to help understand where and why disparities exist and how they can be eliminated.

###

Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Stanford University Medical Center. "Once In The Doctor's Office, Racial And Ethnic Disparities In Care Nearly Disappear: Stanford Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050705011647.htm>.
Stanford University Medical Center. (2005, July 5). Once In The Doctor's Office, Racial And Ethnic Disparities In Care Nearly Disappear: Stanford Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050705011647.htm
Stanford University Medical Center. "Once In The Doctor's Office, Racial And Ethnic Disparities In Care Nearly Disappear: Stanford Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050705011647.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins