Collecting patient race/ethnicity and primary language data in ambulatory care settings: a case study in methodology

Health Serv Res. 2009 Oct;44(5 Pt 1):1750-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2009.00992.x. Epub 2009 Jun 22.


Objective: To collect patient race/ethnicity and language (r/e/l) in an ambulatory care setting.

Data sources/study setting: The Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), December 2006-May 2008.

Study design: Three pilot studies: (1) Comparing mail versus telephone versus clinic visit questionnaire distribution; (2) comparing the front desk method (FDM) versus exam room method (ERM) in the clinic visit; and (3) determining resource allocation necessary for data entry.

Data collection/extraction methods: Studies were planned and executed by PAMF's Quality and Planning division.

Principal findings: Collecting r/e/l data during clinic visits elicited the highest response rate. The FDM yielded higher response rate than the ERM. One full-time equivalent is initially necessary for data entry.

Conclusions: Conducting sequential studies can help guide r/e/l collection in a short time frame.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Language*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Patients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postal Service
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone