Obtaining data on patient race, ethnicity, and primary language in health care organizations: current challenges and proposed solutions

Health Serv Res. 2006 Aug;41(4 Pt 1):1501-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00552.x.


Objectives: To provide an overview of why health care organizations (HCOs) should collect race, ethnicity, and language data, review current practices, discuss the rationale for collecting this information directly from patients, and describe barriers and solutions.

Principal findings: Hospitals and HCOs with data from their own institutions may be more likely to look at disparities in care, design targeted programs to improve quality of care, and provide patient-centered care. Yet data collection is fragmented and incomplete within and across organizations. A major factor affecting the quality of data is the lack of understanding about how best to collect this information from patients.

Conclusions: If HCOs make a commitment to systematically collect race/ethnicity and language data from patients, it would be a major step in enhancing the ability of HCOs to monitor health care processes and outcomes for different population groups, target quality initiatives more efficiently and effectively, and provide patient-centered care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Health Facilities*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Racial Groups*
  • United States