The contributing role of health-care communication to health disparities for minority patients with asthma

Chest. 2007 Nov;132(5 Suppl):802S-809S. doi: 10.1378/chest.07-1909.


Asthma is a common, chronic illness with substantial morbidity, especially for racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. The care of the patient with asthma is complex and depends ideally on excellent communication between patients and health-care providers. Communication is essential for the patient to communicate the severity of his or her illness, as well as for the health-care provider to instruct patients on pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic care. This article describes evidence for poor provider/patient communication as a contributor to health-care disparities for minority patients with asthma. Communication problems stem from issues with patients, health-care providers, and health-care systems. It is likely that asthma disparities can be improved, in part, by improving patient/provider communication. While much is known presently about the problem of patient/provider communication in asthma, there is a need to improve and extend the evidence base on the role of effective communication of asthma care and the links to outcomes for minorities. Additional studies are needed that document the extent to which problems with doctor/patient communication lead to inadequate care and poor outcomes for minorities with asthma, as well as mechanisms by which these disparities occur.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / ethnology*
  • Communication*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups / education
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Prejudice
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology