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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Tulane: Black and Hispanic Patients Face Longer Waits, Questions When Making Primary Care Appointments

Discrimination may cause black and Hispanic patients to wait longer for a scheduled primary care appointment, according to a new Tulane University study published in JAMA Network Open.

The research could shine more light on why people who belong to racial and ethnic minority groups experience worse health outcomes than white patient in the United States.

“Timeliness of care is really important,” said lead author Dr. Janna Wisniewski, assistant professor of health policy and management at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “Delay in seeing a provider means that the patient spends more time experiencing the illness or injury. They may be anxious or in pain for longer. They may struggle for longer to go to work or take care of their family. Delay also gives the condition more time to worsen, which means that if a health system gives more timely care to one group over another, the health system itself may be contributing to health disparities.”

The research team recruited seven female callers who self-identified as non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, or Hispanic. Each invented a pseudonym that they felt signaled their gender, racial, and ethnic identities and that they felt comfortable using on the calls. The women called more than 800 primary care offices in Texas. Each time, the caller introduced herself by her pseudonym and asked to be scheduled for the next available appointment as a new patient.

Researchers found black callers were 44 percent more likely and Hispanic callers 25 percent more likely than white callers to be asked about their insurance status during the call. The study also found patients belonging to racial/ethnic minority groups received appointments further in the future than white callers.

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