SUHI Researchers Maureen Benjamins and Steve Whitman have just published a new article on discrimination in health care. This article, Relationships between Discrimination in Health Care and Health Care Outcomes among Four Race/Ethnic groups, was published online in March in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine (DOI: 10.1007/s10865-013-9496-7).
Many studies have found that discrimination is detrimental to health, but less is known about the influence of discrimination that takes place specifically in a health care setting. To address this, the current study compared levels of racial/ethnic discrimination in health care among four race/ethnic groups and looked at associations between this type of discrimination and health care outcomes.
Data from Sinai’s Improving Community Health Survey were used. This was a population-based sample of 1,699 White, African American, Mexican, and Puerto Rican respondents. Overall, 23% of the sample reported discrimination in health care, with levels varying substantially by race/ethnicity. This type of discrimination was associated with an increased likelihood of having unmet health care needs and a lower likelihood of perceiving excellent quality of care. It was not related to the use of a physician when not sick or the use of alternative medicine. The relationships were similar across race/ethnic groups and could not be explained by coping mechanisms, stress, or depression. These findings expand the literature and provide preliminary evidence that can eventually inform the development of interventions and the training of health care providers.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the American Cancer Society, IL Division (M. Benjamins). The Sinai Improving Community Health Survey was completed with generous funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the Michael Reese Health Trust and the Frederick and Florence Roe Health Policy Fund.