Two New Studies on Reducing Health Disparities

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<p>The U.S. is becoming more diverse every year, and the health care system needs to keep pace with its changing patient population. Two new Commonwealth Fund-supported studies discuss ways that providers can better meet the needs of all patients.<br><br><ul><li>Collecting information on patients' race, ethnicity, and language, and linking those with measures of the quality of care, is a crucial first step in eliminating health disparities. However, many providers do not have a collection system in place. A <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=21149&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D360671%26%23doc360671">study conducted</a> by David W. Baker, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues and published</a> in the March issue of the <em>American Journal of Public Health</em> showed that allowing patients to describe their racial or ethnic background in their own words may improve the accuracy of such data.</li><br><br><li>A <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=21148&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D360684%26%23doc360684">study published</a> in the February issue of <em>Medical Research and Review</em> found that having access to medical interpreters can not only substantially reduce racial and ethnic disparities but also improve patients' experiences. Researchers led by Leo S. Morales, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed data collected by the California State Children's Health Insurance Program from parents of children enrolled in participating health plans.<br><br>They found that less than half of patients who required an interpreter during a medical visit reported they were provided one. Those who did have access to an interpreter, however, were much more satisfied with their care.</li></ul></p>