Racial and ethnic differences in patient assessments of interactions with providers: disparities or measurement biases?

Am J Med Qual. 2006 Mar-Apr;21(2):109-14. doi: 10.1177/1062860605285164.


Patient assessment surveys have established a primary role in health care quality measurement as evidence has shown that information from patients can affect quality improvement for practitioners and lead to positive marketwide changes. This article presents findings from the recently released National Healthcare Disparities Report revealing that although most clinical quality and access indicators show superior health care for non-Hispanic whites compared with blacks and Hispanics, blacks and Hispanics assess their interactions with providers more positively than non-Hispanic whites do. The article explores possible explanations for these racial/ethnic differences, including potential pitfalls in survey design that draw biased responses by race/ethnicity. The article then suggests strategies for refining future research on racial/ethnic disparities based on patient assessment of health care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Data Collection
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • United States