Objective: To examine associations of patient ratings of communication by health care providers with patient language (English vs Spanish) and ethnicity (Latino vs white).
Methods: A random sample of patients receiving medical care from a physician group association concentrated on the West Coast was studied. A total of 7,093 English and Spanish language questionnaires were returned for an overall response rate of 59%. Five questions asking patients to rate communication by their health care providers were examined in this study. All five questions were administered with a 7-point response scale.
Main results: We estimated the associations of satisfaction ratings with language (English vs Spanish) and ethnicity (white vs Latino) using ordinal logistic models, controlling for age and gender. Latinos responding in Spanish (Latino/Spanish) were significantly more dissatisfied compared with Latinos responding in English (Latino/English) and non-Latino whites responding in English (white) when asked about: (1) the medical staff listened to what they say (29% vs 17% vs 13% rated this "very poor," "poor," or "fair"; p <.01); (2) answers to their questions (27% vs 16% vs 12%; p <.01); (3) explanations about prescribed medications (22% vs 19% vs 14%; p <.01); (4) explanations about medical procedures and test results (36% vs 21% vs 17%; p <.01); and (5) reassurance and support from their doctors and the office staff (37% vs 23% vs 18%; p <.01).
Conclusion: This study documents that Latino/Spanish respondents are significantly more dissatisfied with provider communication than Latino/English and white respondents. These results suggest Spanish-speaking Latinos may be at increased risk of lower quality of care and poor health outcomes. Efforts to improve the quality of communication with Spanish-speaking Latino patients in outpatient health care settings are needed.