Creating a Synthesis of Research on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care

    • December 1, 2006

Researchers at the City University of New York (CUNY) analyzed previous research on racial and ethnic disparities in health care delivery and created an annotated bibliography of the research, Annotated Bibliography on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, which was in draft form when this report was written.

Key Results

The bibliography is organized by major disease or treatment categories, and it discusses the differential treatment of patients from racial and ethnic minorities, the impact of race and ethnicity on physician-patient communication, cultural competency training of health professionals, and issues of trust and mistrust in the health care system.

It covers numerous studies that have documented highly significant disparities in the allocation of health care resources for African American and Hispanic patients. These disparities have ranged from the most basic components of clinical care to the use of high-tech procedures, including angioplasty, heart bypass surgery, and kidney transplantation.

Key Findings

Among the key findings in the medical literature, as reported by the project director:

  • There is widespread evidence of significant and persistent disparities in the treatment of African American and Hispanic patients.
  • Disparities are best documented in the treatment of coronary artery disease and in the use of high-tech procedures.
  • "Patient choice" accounts for only a small percentage of the disparities in treatment received, according to recent prospective studies, in which patients and physicians were interviewed.
  • Several studies have demonstrated that racial stereotypes held by physicians (for example, that minorities are unlikely to comply with rehab or have poor social supports) predicted whether an advanced procedure like angioplasty would be denied, while the clinical status of the patient did not.