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.
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.
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).
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].
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).