A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control National Center for Health Statistics suggests that racial and ethnic minorities think it is important that their medical provider share or understand their culture. However, the data show patients were less likely to be able to find or see a provider from their culture or ethnicity.
Among adults who had seen a health care professional in the past 12 months and those who thought it was at least slightly important to have a health care provider who shared or understood their culture, minority groups were generally more likely to report never being able to see a culturally similar health care provider compared with non-Hispanic white adults, and this pattern persisted regardless of gender, age group, or where they lived.
Those residing in metropolitan areas were more likely to report never being able to see a health care provider who shared their culture.
Black adults thought it was either very important (31.7%) or somewhat or slightly important (29.4%) to have a health care provider who shared or understood their culture. Similarly, the majority of Hispanic adults and non-Hispanic adults of other race(s) thought it was either very important (32.9% and 27.0%, respectively) or somewhat or slightly important (28.4% and 32.6%, respectively) to have a health care provider who shared or understood their culture.
The percentage of white adults who thought it was very important to have a health care provider who shared or understood their culture
was significantly lower than that among all other race and Hispanic-ethnicity groups.
The study was conducted to investigate the importance of shared culture of the provider and patient, using differences in gender, age group and whether the patient lived in the suburban or urban area. Released Tuesday, the report is entitled “Reported Importance and Access to Health Care Providers Who Understand or Share Cultural Characteristics With Their Patients Among Adults, by Race and Ethnicity.”
Previous research has shown that patients are more satisfied with their care when they view their physician as similar to them in a number of ways such as sharing their race, ethnicity, or language, or if they believe they share their values or beliefs.
Previous research also suggests that this increase in trust and participation may even result in patients following the providers’ health recommendations, which could lead to better eventual health outcomes.