Improving Satisfaction and Health Behavior Outcomes Among African-American Patients

The Institute of Medicine has identified patient-centered care as an important dimension of health care quality. Patient-centered, "culturally sensitive" health care addresses patients' cultural preferences and tailors care to the patient's cultural needs. While culturally sensitive health care may help reduce racial and ethnic disparities, there is little empirical evidence of a link between such care and improved patient health.

During 2007–09 researchers at the University of Florida conducted a two-phase study designed to address health care disparities both through the development and testing of culturally sensitive assessment tools (phase one) and through a health promotion model program (phase two).

In the first phase, the researchers administered the Tucker-Culturally Sensitive Health Care Inventory (which was designed by the research team) and other assessment measures at 67 health care sites nationwide. Those assessed included 1,696 patients, 493 office staff members and 74 providers.

Researchers also administered a Health Care Site Characteristics Questionnaire to 67 site administrators.

In the second phase, the researchers tested the effectiveness of a Patient-Centered Culturally Sensitive Health Care and Health Promoting Model Program on the health status of patients with type 2 diabetes. The program consisted of two five-hour workshops that focused on healthy eating and exercise.

The researchers recruited 130 patients, mostly Black, divided into intervention and control groups. The assessment tools used in phase one also were used in the second phase. In addition, patients were asked about their blood glucose levels, depression, physical stress and general well-being.

Researchers also recorded the patients' height, weight and blood pressure.

Key Findings

  • The higher the percentage of racially and ethnically diverse staff members employed at a health care facility, the more satisfaction patients reported about their care.

  • Participants in the model program workshops on healthy behavior experienced significant positive health outcomes and other changes, while control group patients did not.