Public Opinion on Racial Disparities in Health Care Varies Widely, Survey Finds
At a forum on health care disparities in Nashville yesterday, Harvard University's Interfaculty Program for Health Systems Improvement released a survey on public opinion about racial disparities in the health care system, the Tennessean reports. According to the survey, about 50% of whites polled said that minorities receive equal health care treatment, while 65% of blacks polled said that they and other minorities receive inferior quality of care. The survey also found that 67% of white respondents believed that increasing the number of minorities who work in health care would decrease the disparities, compared with 92% of black and Hispanic respondents. Many respondents supported educating minority communities about how to participate in treatment decisions to reduce health care disparities. Other "popular solutions" included requiring medical students to take classes about how to communicate with patients of different backgrounds; requiring providers to have interpreters for non-English-speaking patients; and penalizing doctors, hospitals and insurers with a record of disparities, according to the Tennessean. Harvard Professor Dr. David Blumenthal said that the survey shows "a public apathy and lack of understanding" about racial health care disparities, the Tennessean reports. The forum was organized by the Harvard Forums on Health (Fahmy, Tennessean, 9/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.