Despite significant documentation of persistent racial and ethnic disparities in health status and health care in the United States, current research on the subject indicates that the general public, including racial and ethnic minorities, is uninformed about the nature and extent of such disparities. In 1999, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Princeton Survey Research Associates conducted a national survey to measure the public's perceptions, attitudes, and experiences about racial and ethnic disparities in health care. The HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) and NORC at the University of Chicago conducted a study to replicate and expand the earlier survey to determine if there have been any changes in the public's awareness of racial and ethnic disparities in health care and health status.
The study revealed a significant increase in Americans' awareness of such disparities from 55 percent in 1999 to 60 percent in 2009 and 59 percent in 2010. However, awareness of several key health status and disease indicators, such as infant mortality and HIV/AIDS, decreased or remained steady. Awareness of several important health disparities remains quite low even among the disproportionately affected racial and ethnic minority groups. Lastly, the general public reports relatively low levels of familiarity and contact with important national health disparities reports and awareness campaigns. A significant amount of work remains to be done to inform the U.S. population of health conditions that disproportionately affect specific racial and ethnic minority groups. Future studies need to include American Indian/Alaska Native populations and could also be adapted for other populations (e.g., legislators and other policymakers). To improve response rates, future data collection cycles should employ financial incentives and new sampling techniques and data collection methodologies.
Report Title: Trends in U.S. Public Awareness of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health
Agency Sponsor: OASH, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
Federal Contact: Valerie Welsh, 240-453-8222
Performer: NORC at the University of Chicago
Record ID: 8614 (Report issued September 30, 2010)