10/28: CSMS issues results of health disparities survey Print E-mail
CSMS issues results of health disparities survey
First Connecticut research to examine how physicians care for patients
from diverse racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds

CSMS President Kathleen LaVorgna, MD, speaks at the news conferenceHartford – Connecticut physicians believe they could be providing better care to patients of diverse racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds if they had training that was more accessible, according to the results of a survey released today by the Connecticut State Medical Society. “Providing Medical Care to Diverse Populations” is one of the first studies of its kind to seek physician input in helping reduce disparities in health care. The statewide survey of Connecticut physicians from 17 specialties was conducted from April to July through a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation.

The findings indicate gaps in physician education programs that highlight cultural competency:
  • Fewer than 2 in 5 physicians received some kind of cultural diversity education in medical school or residency.
  • 70% of physicians were not aware of educational programs in this area that are available to them today.
  • Physicians working in small practices, the setting that describes more than 80% of Connecticut physicians, were less likely to have received training in cultural literacy. Those working in hospital or medical school settings were the most likely to have had formal training in cultural awareness.
  • Physicians ages 55-64, and those whose practices were mostly White, gave themselves lower ratings for providing culturally appropriate care.
  • Women physicians were significantly more likely to provide interpreter services and patient-education materials in other languages.
In addition, the physicians surveyed identified patients’ health insurance status as the greatest barrier to referrals.. Forty-three percent called it “a big problem.”

Executive Summary
Providing Medical Care to Diverse Populations: Summary of Findings from a Survey of Connecticut Physicians

“The results of our survey tell a sobering story about our ability to communicate with patients, which is the foundation of the physician-patient relationship,” said Kathleen A. LaVorgna, MD, president of CSMS. “The good news is that we can have an immediate impact on this situation by providing the kind of credible cultural awareness education physicians want and need.”

CSMS has already begun to develop materials to educate physicians and their office staff, and it is working closely with a number of national organizations dedicated to this issue. In addition, a recent state mandate requires cultural diversity training for medical license renewal; CSMS hopes to assist in developing the curriculum so the end result is valuable for physicians.

Patricia Baker, president and CEO of CHF, said: “The foundation appreciates the enthusiasm with which CSMS embraces eliminating health disparities and is demonstrating commitment, initiative, and excitement for this new partnership. Most important, we recognize the need for a strong partnership, which targets practicing physicians who are key in working together to build health equity. This effort is a great opportunity for medical professionals practicing individually or in small practices to join CSMS in making a difference in the health outcomes of Connecticut’s diverse population.”

“The survey provides us with important benchmarks,” said William A. Handelman, MD, immediate past president of CSMS. “Physicians are telling us they need help, and it’s incumbent on CSMS to offer it. Once we’ve conducted our educational campaign and used the many resources of CSMS to reach out to physicians, we will conduct a follow-up survey to see how care is improving.”

State Rep. Betsy Ritter, co-chair of the legislature’s Public Health committee, holds a longtime interest in diversity issues. “I am very pleased to see the Connecticut State Medical Society work with the Connecticut Health Foundation to pursue this issue. The results provide CSMS, policymakers, and the education community greater understanding of both the challenges of our increasingly diverse populations and the potential for reducing disparities in medical care in Connecticut. I am looking forward to continuing this work.”

Robert Aseltine, PhD, professor in the Division of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health and Director of the Institute for Public Health Research at the University of Connecticut Health Center, was a contributor to the report.
Media contact: Audrey Honig Geragosian
Director of Communications
203 / 865-0587 x110

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 July 2010 )