Less Use of Extreme Response Options by Asians to Standardized Care Scenarios May Explain Some Racial/Ethnic Differences in CAHPS Scores

Published in: Medical Care, v. 54, no. 1, Jan. 2016, p. 38-44

Posted on RAND.org on December 28, 2015

by Lauren A. Mayer, Marc N. Elliott, Ann C. Haas, Ron D. Hays, Robin M. Weinick

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BACKGROUND: Asian Americans (hereafter "Asians") generally report worse experiences with care than non-Latino whites (hereafter "whites"), which may reflect differential use of response scales. Past studies indicate that Asians exhibit lower Extreme Response Tendency (ERT)--they less frequently use responses at extreme ends of the scale than whites. OBJECTIVE: To explore whether lower ERT is observed for Asians than whites in response to standardized vignettes depicting patient experiences of care and whether ERT might in part explain Asians reporting worse care than whites. PROCEDURE: A representative US sample (n=575 Asian; n=505 white) was presented with 5 written vignettes describing doctor-patient encounters with differing levels of physician responsiveness. Respondents evaluated the encounters using modified CAHPS communication questions. RESULTS: Case-mix–adjusted repeated-measures multivariate models show that Asians provided more positive responses than whites to several vignettes with less-responsive physicians but less positive responses than whites for the vignette with the most physician responsiveness (P<0.01 for each). While all respondents provided more positive ratings for vignettes with greater physician responsiveness, the increase was 15% less for Asian than white respondents. CONCLUSIONS: Asians exhibit lower ERT than whites in response to standardized scenarios. Because CAHPS responses are predominantly near the positive end of the scale and the most responsive scenario is most typical of the score observed in real-world settings, lower ERT in Asians may partially explain observations of lower observed mean CAHPS scores for Asians in real-world settings. Case-mix adjustment for Asian race/ethnicity or its correlates may improve quality of care measurement.

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