Treatment by physicians with same race and language as the patient may improve medication adherence

Research Activities, June 2011, No. 370

Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately affected by diabetes and its related cardiovascular effects, making it even more important for them to take all their medications as directed. Receiving treatment from a doctor of the same race or language may improve medication adherence rates among blacks and Hispanics, suggests a new study. However, it appears to have no effect on Asian patients or those Hispanic patients who are proficient in English.

The study included 131,277 adults with diabetes receiving care from Kaiser Permanente, a large health maintenance organization in northern California. Results showed that patient-physician race concordance was highest for Asian (63 percent) and white (47 percent) patients, and lowest for black (10 percent) and Hispanic (11 percent) patients. Just under a quarter (24 percent) of Spanish-speaking patients were treated by physicians fluent in the language. When blacks had black doctors, adherence rates rose to 53.2 percent compared with 49.8 percent for blacks without black doctors. Adherence rates also improved for Hispanic patients whose doctors spoke Spanish (50.6 percent) compared with those whose doctors did not (44.8 percent).

Further efforts are needed to recruit and retain minority and language-proficient physicians who can help improve outcomes in these populations, suggest the researchers. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13902).

See "Adherence to cardiovascular disease medications: Does patient-provider race/ethnicity and language concordance matter?" by Ana H. Traylor, M.P.P., Julie A. Schmittdiel, Ph.D., Connie S. Uratsu, B.A., and others in the Journal of General Internal Medicine 25(11), pp. 1172-1177, 2010.

Current as of June 2011
Internet Citation: Treatment by physicians with same race and language as the patient may improve medication adherence: Research Activities, June 2011, No. 370. June 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jun11/0611RA3.html