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Patient-Reported Racial/Ethnic Healthcare Provider Discrimination and Medication Intensification in the Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE)

BACKGROUND: Racial/ethnic minority patients are more likely to report experiences with discrimination in the healthcare setting, potentially leading to reduced access to appropriate care; however, few studies evaluate reports of discrimination with objectively measured quality of care indicators. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether patient-reported racial/ethnic discrimination by healthcare providers was associated with evidence of poorer quality care measured by medication intensification. RESEARCH DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: Baseline data from the Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE), a random, race-stratified sample from the Kaiser Permanente Diabetes Registry from 2005-2006, including both survey and medical record data. MAIN MEASURES: Self-reported healthcare provider discrimination (from survey data) and medication intensification (from electronic prescription records) for poorly controlled diabetes patients (A1c >/=9.0%; systolic BP >/=140 mmHg or diastolic BP >/=90 mmHg; low-density lipoprotein (LDL) >/=130 mg/dl). KEY RESULTS: Of 10,409 eligible patients, 21% had hyperglycemia, 14% had hyperlipidemia, and 32% had hypertension. Of those with hyperglycemia, 59% had their medications intensified, along with 40% with hyperlipidemia, 33% with hypertension, and 47% in poor control of any risk factor. In adjusted log-binomial GEE models, discrimination was not associated with medication intensification [RR = 0.96 (95% CI: 0.74, 1.24) for hyperglycemia, RR = 1.23 (95% CI: 0.93, 1.63) for hyperlipidemia, RR = 1.06 (95% CI: 0.69, 1.61) for hypertension, and RR = 1.08 (95% CI: 0.88, 1.33) for the composite cohort]. CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence that patient-reported healthcare discrimination was associated with less medication intensification. While not associated with this technical aspect of care, discrimination could still be associated with other aspects of care (e.g., patient-centeredness, communication).

Authors: Lyles CR; Karter AJ; Young BA; Spigner C; Grembowski D; Schillinger D; Adler N

J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Oct;26(10):1138-44. Epub 2011 May 6.

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