Only 22% of Black patients have a healthcare provider of the same race, study finds

Patients of color are significantly less likely to have healthcare providers of the same race compared with white patients, signaling a need to diversify the healthcare workforce to help promote equity and reduce disparities, according to a study published March 23 by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit economic and social policy research organization. 

The study, conducted with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is based on data from the April 2021 round of the Urban Institute's Health Reform Monitoring Survey. More than 9,000 adults participated in the latest round.

Four findings:

1. Black adults (22.2 percent) were not as likely as white adults (73.8 percent) or adults of other races (34.4 percent) to report being the same race as their healthcare providers. 

2. Less than one-quarter of Hispanic/Latinx adults (23.1 percent) reported sharing a racial, ethnic, or language background with their usual health provider.

3. Non-Hispanic/Latinx white adults (70.4 percent) were more likely than Hispanic/Latinx adults (55.8 percent) and non-Hispanic/Latinx Black adults (65.6 percent) to have a usual healthcare provider. 

4. Adults with public or private insurance (68.3 percent and 72.8 percent, respectively) were more likely than uninsured adults (28.5 percent) to have a usual healthcare provider.

Considering the study findings, researchers recommended policymakers take actions to improve access to medical translation services, provide training on culturally competent care and look at avenues to invest in making the healthcare workforce more diverse long term via medical education.

"Steps to address the imbalance include making medical education more affordable for underrepresented groups, diversifying the healthcare teams serving people of color and those with limited English proficiency, and holding providers accountable for providing culturally effective care to patients in the language they prefer," Dulce Gonzalez, a research associate at the Urban Institute, said in a news release. 

To access the study, click here

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