In 2005–06, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and colleagues nationally examined the differences in work conditions between ambulatory clinics that serve large numbers of minority patients and clinics that do not. The researchers sought to identify challenges facing practices serving minority populations that might affect physicians' work environment and patient care.
Key Findings: The researchers reported the following findings in "Separate and Unequal: Clinics Where Minority and Nonminority Patients Receive Primary Care," published in 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine (volume 169, number 3):
- Clinics serving large numbers of minority patients (30 percent or more of their patient base) have less access to some resources than clinics serving smaller minority populations.
- Clinics serving large numbers of minority patients also face a more diverse and challenging patient base.
- Physicians at clinics serving large numbers of minority patients report other challenges.
- Physicians at clinics serving large numbers of minority patients are more likely to say they operate in chaotic work environments. They also report lower job satisfaction than their counterparts from clinics with fewer minority patients.
Afterward: In 2009, AHRQ funded a new study, Creating Healthy Workplaces, which uses the OWL as part of a randomized trial of quality improvement interventions to improve work conditions at primary care clinics. The study will determine the impact of these interventions on both the physician work environment and patient care quality and safety.