Racial, Ethnic, and Language Concordance Between Patients and Their Usual Healthcare Providers

Two women and baby in medical office.

Patients of color are less likely than White patients to report being the same race as their healthcare providers. The disparity could have negative implications for patient-provider relationships and patient health outcomes.

The Issue

Historical medical mistreatment of Black people in America, and other people of color, has contributed to a mistrust of healthcare providers within these groups. Perceptions of a shared identity between patients and providers could be one way to improve the patient-provider relationship and foster trust and better communication.

Key Findings

  • Black adults were less likely to report being the same race as their healthcare providers (22.2 percent) than White adults (73.8 percent) or adults of other races (34.4 percent).

  • Less than one in four Hispanic/Latinx adults (23.1 percent) reported sharing a racial, ethnic, or language background with their usual health provider.

  • Hispanic/Latinx adults (55.8 percent) and non-Hispanic/Latinx Black adults (65.6 percent) were less likely to have a usual healthcare provider than non-Hispanic/Latinx White adults (70.4 percent). Similarly, uninsured adults were much less likely to have a usual healthcare provider (28.5 percent) than adults with public or private insurance (68.3 percent and 72.8 percent).

Conclusion                  

Efforts to diversify the healthcare workforce have the potential to help promote health equity and reduce disparities. Researchers provide several recommendations for policymakers, including improving access to medical translation services, providing training on culturally competent care, and exploring avenues to invest in diversifying the healthcare workforce long-term (i.e., through diversifying medical education).

About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. Visit the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center for more information specific to its staff and its recent research.