Objective: To understand if patient-provider race-concordance is associated with improved health outcomes for minorities.
Design: A comprehensive review of published research literature (1980-2008) using MEDLINE, HealthSTAR, and CINAHL databases were conducted. Studies were included if they had at least one research question examining the effect of patient-provider race-concordance on minority patients' health outcomes and pertained to minorities in the USA. The database search and data analysis were each independently conducted by two authors. The review was limited to data analysis in tabular and text format. A meta-analysis was not possible due to the discrepancy in methods and outcomes across studies.
Results: Twenty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria. Combined, the studies were based on data from 56,276 patients and only 1,756 providers. Whites/Caucasians (37.6%) and Blacks/African Americans (31.5%), followed by Hispanics/Latinos (13.3%), and Asians/Pacific Islanders (4.3%) comprised the majority of the patient sample. The median sample of providers was only 16 for African Americans, 10 for Asians and two for Hispanics. The review presented mixed results. Of the 27 studies, patient-provider race-concordance was associated with positive health outcomes for minorities in only nine studies (33%), while eight studies (30%) found no association of race-concordance with the outcomes studied and 10 (37%) presented mixed findings. Analysis suggested that having a provider of same race did not improve 'receipt of services' for minorities. No clear pattern of findings emerged in the domains of healthcare utilization, patient-provider communication, preference, satisfaction, or perception of respect.
Conclusions: There is inconclusive evidence to support that patient-provider race-concordance is associated with positive health outcomes for minorities. Studies were limited to four racial/ethnic groups and generally employed small samples of minorities. Further research is needed to understand what health outcomes may be more sensitive to cultural proximity between patients and providers, and what patient, provider and setting-level variables may moderate or mediate these outcomes.