Background and Significance of the Problem
Healthcare disparities exist at every healthcare system level, ranging from the patient and the provider to the healthcare system. Health disparities are the increased risk of individuals from certain minority groups suffering from adverse health conditions (Wheeler & Bryant, 2017). This is due to social discrimination that predisposes them to poor health secondary to their ethnic or racial composition. People of African, Latino, Asian and Hispanic origin are at an increased risk of having poor physical and mental health outcomes in America compared to their white counterparts (Wheeler & Bryant, 2017). The minority groups have reduced access to healthcare and insurance services for health promotion. Genetic differences between races and ethnic groups also influence their health-seeking behaviors and predisposition to acquire certain illnesses. Additionally, research shows that healthcare personnel in the minority racial and ethnic groups often have limited knowledge, behaviors, and attitude in managing patients from these communities. This is thought to be partly caused by their cultural differences with the patients (Hammarlund et al., 2017). Therefore, focusing on the healthcare factors that increase healthcare disparities is vital for promoting society members’ optimal wellbeing.
Statement of the Problem and Purpose of the Study
The healthcare system has a significant role in enhancing the racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. Research shows that individuals from minority racial and ethnic communities are disadvantaged in accessing treatment services (Wasserman et al., 2019). Specific characteristics of the healthcare system, including individual elements, play a role in enhancing the healthcare system’s disparities (Hammarlund et al., 2017). The quality and timing of care provision at the hospitals significantly determine the health of the underserved populations. Furthermore, healthcare providers’ characteristics affect the type of care delivered to patients from minority societies. According to Wasserman et al. (2019), nurses and physicians have biases in treating patients from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. For instance, healthcare personnel often underrate the pain sensations in individuals of African American descent. Interventions to address the discriminatory provision of care are significantly required for the healthcare personnel.
Moreover, the delayed referral and high cesarean delivery rates may be due to provider biases. Research shows that African Americans are less likely to receive coronary heart disease treatment than their white counterparts (Wheeler & Bryant, 2017). Although there has been an increased emphasis on correcting the discrimination in health services provision, a knowledge gap exists in healthcare factors in enhancing healthcare disparities. Therefore, this research study aims to identify the role of healthcare providers’ knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes in reducing healthcare disparities.
Research Questions, Hypothesis, and Variables with Operational Definitions
This research study aims to answer several questions about the racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare delivery. First, the research question can be formulated as the following: what is the role of knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes of the healthcare providers in reducing healthcare disparities? The null hypothesis for this research is that the knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes of the healthcare providers reduce healthcare disparities. The variables for this study include disparities in healthcare and the healthcare personnel’s knowledge and attitudes. The dependent variables are the healthcare disparities, whereas the healthcare professionals’ knowledge, behaviors, and attitude are the independent variables. Knowledge refers to the understanding of healthcare personnel of the racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. Behaviors refer to the practices of medics in handling individuals from underserved groups. Attitudes refer to healthcare personnel’s emotional state regarding healthcare disparities according to racial and ethnic factors (Hammarlund et al., 2017). These factors can be measured using self-administered questionnaires that have questions touching on the healthcare personnel’s knowledge, behavior, and attitudes on health disparities.
Hammarlund, R., Hamer, D., Crapanzano, K., Bernard, R., Nzodom, C., James, C., Johnson, A., Kirby, D., Hetzler, L., Woodward, C., Sulzer, J., Rabalais, L., & Calongne, L. (2017). Health care disparities knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors in resident physicians. Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews, 4(4), 230–236. Web.
Wasserman, J., Palmer, R. C., Gomez, M. M., Berzon, R., Ibrahim, S. A., & Ayanian, J. Z. (2019). Advancing health services research to eliminate health care disparities. American Journal Of Public Health, 109(S1), S64-S69. Web.
Wheeler, S. M., & Bryant, A. S. (2017). Racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics, 44(1), 1-11. Web.