Understanding Ethnic and Other Socio-Demographic Differences in Patient Experience of Primary Care

Evidence from the English General Practice Patient Survey

Published in: BMJ Quality & Safety, v. 21, no. 1, Jan. 2012, p. 21-29

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

by Georgios Lyratzopoulos, Marc N. Elliott, Josephine Barbiere, A Henderson, Laura Staetsky, Charlotte Paddison, John Campbell, Martin Roland

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BACKGROUND: Ethnic minorities and some other patient groups consistently report lower scores on patient surveys, but the reasons for this are unclear. This study examined whether low scores of ethnic minority and other socio-demographic groups reflect their concentration in poorly performing primary care practices, and whether any remaining differences are consistent across practices. METHODS: Using data from the 2009 English General Practice Patient Survey (2 163 456 respondents from 8267 general practices) this study examined associations between patient socio-demographic characteristics and 11 measures of patient-reported experience. FINDINGS: South Asian and Chinese patients, younger patients, and those in poor health reported a less positive primary care experience than White patients, older patients and those in better health. For doctor communication, about half of the overall difference associated with South Asian patients (ranging from −6 to −9 percentage points) could be explained by their concentration in practices with low scores, but the other half arose because they reported less positive experiences than White patients in the same practices. Practices varied considerably in the direction and extent of ethnic differences. In some practices ethnic minority patients reported better experience than White patients. Differences associated with gender, Black ethnicity and deprivation were small and inconsistent. CONCLUSION: Substantial ethnic differences in patient experience exist in a national healthcare system providing universal coverage. Improving the experience of patients in low-scoring practices would not only improve the quality of care provided to their White patients but it would also substantially reduce ethnic group differences in patient experience. There were large variations in the experiences reported by ethnic minority patients in different practices: practices with high patient experience scores from ethnic minority patients could be studied as models for quality improvement.

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