A new study revealed that poor communication with Hispanic patients is adversely affecting the quality of care to this country’s largest minority group. The Jeffrey Group, the largest independent communications agency targeting Latin audiences, and KCI Partners, a strategic market research and consulting firm, announced today the results of this study measuring the knowledge and perceptions of minority patients relating to healthcare issues. The main focus of the study, which surveyed 422 physicians across the country, was to uncover barriers in receiving adequate treatment and measure the effectiveness of communication vehicles in educating Hispanic patients about their health.

“Given the prevalence of topics such as healthcare reform and the much-awaited U.S. Census results, we felt it was perfect timing to conduct a study measuring the views and knowledge-base of average Hispanic patients,” said Mike Valdes-Fauli, President of The Jeffrey Group. “With a booming U.S. Hispanic population, it is important to identify best practices in communicating with Latinos to ensure optimal care, and hopefully provide insights to pharmaceutical companies seeking to inform and educate that audience.”

One of the most important findings of the study was related to obstacles physicians encountered in effectively treating Hispanic patients. Twenty-four percent of physicians cited poor patient understanding of disease severity was “almost always a barrier” to treatment and 21% cited it as “frequently a barrier.” Other factors cited by physicians as almost always being a barrier to treatment were preconceived notions/myths (23% of physicians) and conflicting advice about treatment from family members (21% of physicians).

Despite these barriers, nearly 50% of respondents cited that community organizations, physicians, physician assistants and nurses are among those doing the most effective job at communicating about healthcare issues with Hispanic patients. On the other hand, most physicians think that pharmaceutical companies do a poor job of communicating, lacking a thorough understanding of multicultural patient needs. In fact, only 12% reported that pharmaceutical companies understand the healthcare needs of Hispanic patients very well. Even fewer physicians (7%) indicated that pharmaceutical companies are doing an adequate job in communicating with Hispanics about solutions to their healthcare needs.

The second part of the study addressed the most effective educational vehicles for informing Hispanic or minority patients. Most physicians agree that one-on-one time with staff and printed educational materials in Spanish are the most important and effective ways to communicate with these patients. Furthermore, physicians agree that media plays a key role in informing patients. Seventy-one percent of physicians cited that, outside of their offices, television stories are a very or extremely effective communication vehicle to help educate these patients.

“The data from this study can be used to improve healthcare delivery and enhance the comfort level of minority patients across the country,” said Richard Klass, President of KCI.

The Jeffrey Group
KCI Partners

My comments on this article are numerous:

Firstly a key element was omitted in this study and that seems to be the role of the PHARMACIST. It is critical that Pharmacists be involved in the delivery of “Pharmaceutical” information¬† to ALL patients, after all that is what we do! Pharmacists not physicians are the experts that provide medication information to our patients.

Secondly I agree that Hispanic patients DO NOT get the information they need from all walks of the healthcare team, Physicians, Pharmacies and Pharmaceutical companies alike. The Physician writes the prescription and sends the patient off to the pharmacy. Invariable what I see time and time again is that nobody in the pharmacy speaks Spanish (or any other language for that matter), and therefore the patient cannot adequately be counseled on the medications. Invariable the pharmacy staff member just starts to speak in a louder and louder voice, as if this is going to make the patient understand more. The person just does not understand, he/she is not deaf! We must do a better job of being able to effectivley communicate the medication information to the patient so that they can understand. In addition the prescription labels should be provided in Spanish, as well any additional drug information.

I also agree that the Pharmaceutical Companies do a VERY bad job in providing patient information and education materials in Spanish. This has long been a HUGE Peeve of mine. The Company comes out with great materials for patients in English, and then it takes months or years to get the same thing in Spanish, if ever. It always seems as if it’s stuck in the quagmire of the Pharmaceutical Company attorneys agenda. This is a GREAT disservice to our Latino Patients.

What are your Thoughts?

In Health