Hispanic patients in an academic group practice: measurement issues and comparisons with non-Hispanics.
Health Services Research
Health services researchers face a challenge when analyzing populations that include patients of Hispanic cultural heritage. Definitions of Hispanic have changed over the past 25 years. Methods of ascertaining race and ethnicity are flawed, particularly within health care institutions. This study was designed to address these problems by applying a new and unique methodology for identifying Hispanics in a clinical practice. Physicians in a hospital-based academic group practice were asked to identify all Hispanics in their patient panels. A random sample of patients identified as Hispanics were then surveyed by telephone to establish country of origin, length of time in the United States, and bilinguality. This demonstrated a great diversity of country of origin among Hispanics. The 2630 Hispanic patients identified by these methods were compared with non-Hispanics in terms of demographics, case mix, and health care utilization. Health services researchers should consider identification by physicians as a useful method for identifying Hispanics in clinical practice settings.