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Research has highlighted variations in morbidity, mortality and health needs by ethnic group, and suggests that some ethnic groups may receive a poorer service.
To explore the impact of ethnic group on patients' experiences and expectations of their general practice consultation.
One general practice in a multicultural area of London.
A total of 604 consecutive patients attending their general practice (response rate = 60.4%) who described their ethnic group as white British, black African, black African Caribbean or Vietnamese completed a measure relating to their experiences and their expectations of the general practice consultation in terms of treatment, communication, patients' agenda, patients' choice and doctor consistency.
No differences were found for the black African or black African Caribbean patients. The Vietnamese patients reported better experiences of communication, more focus on their agenda and more attention to their choices than the white British patients. However, they also reported expecting lower levels of communication, less focus on their own agenda and reported wanting less GP consistency than the other ethnic groups.
Vietnamese patients state that they are receiving better standards of care in general practice than other ethnic groups. However, they also state that they expect less. This may illustrate a problem with assessing experiences of primary care. Higher scores of experience may not illustrate better consultations as such, but only better when compared with a lower level of initial expectation. A lower expectation is easier to fulfil.