Nativity Status and Patient Perceptions of the Patient-Physician Encounter

Although racial and ethnic disparities in health care have been well documented in the literature, scant attention has been paid to health care received by the foreign-born population in the United States. This study examines the association between patient perceptions of patient-physician interaction and nativity status. Data were extracted from the Commonwealth Fund 2001 Survey on Disparities in Quality of Health Care. The survey was conducted on the phone and consisted of 25-minute interviews with a nationally representative sample of 6,722 adults—5,156 were born in the United States and 1,518 were foreign-born.

Key Findings :

  • Foreign-born individuals were less likely to have health insurance, to visit a regular physician, and to report having any chronic conditions.
  • Foreign-born individuals reported that physicians did not involve them in their care as much as they would have liked.
  • Compared with U.S. born, foreign-born Asians were more likely to report that their physician did not spend as much time with them as they would have liked.

Findings from this study suggest that researchers should consider the experiences of foreign-born individuals as well as U.S. born ethnic and racial groups when assessing disparities in quality of health care.