about Race and Health
A. Yes. Even though there is no essential biological difference between people of one race or another, the rate of disease — and mortality from specific diseases — varies tremendously between people identified as one race or another. For example,
The medical literature proves that different racial and ethnic groups have different health outcomes. Teasing out the reasons, and establishing can be done about them about them, is more complex.
A. No, Collection and reporting of data on race, ethnicity and primary language are legal, according to Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. No federal statutes prohibit this collection. At the state level, Minnesota law does not prohibit collection of this information, either.
A. Collecting information about sensitive topics should be done… sensitively. There are ways to ask patients about race, ethnicity and language that reassure patients about our intentions. When collecting this data, always
New Guide for Hospital Leaders on Inequities in Health Care A new report, Improving Quality and Achieving Equity: A Guide for Hospital Leaders, presents the evidence for racial and ethnic disparities in health care, and provides the rationale for addressing them with a focus on quality, cost, risk management and accreditation. It also highlights case studies and model practices, and recommends activities and resources that can help hospital leaders addressing health care disparities.
Racial, Ethnic and Primary Language Data Collection in the Health Care System: An Assessment of Federal Policies and Practices. More information on the legality of data collection by the Commonwealth Fund of Massachusetts, September 2001.
Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care (2002), a comprehensive report by the Institutes of Medicine.
Provider’s Guide to Quality & Culture, a comprehensive website run by several federal health agencies. Sample the site by reviewing a summary of health problems among specific racial and ethnic groups in the US, such as sub-Saharan Africans, Latinos and African Americans.
Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Minority and Multicultural
How would you know what race I call myself?
Guessing is no substitute for asking. Learn more here about how and why to ask about race with your patients.