Veterans Affairs Providers' Beliefs about the Contributors to and Responsibility for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Health Care Disparities

Johanne Eliacin, Brooke Cunningham, Melissa R. Partin, Amy Gravely, Brent C. Taylor, Howard S. Gordon, Somnath Saha, DIana J. Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: Providers' beliefs about the causes of disparities and the entities responsible for addressing these disparities are important in designing disparity-reduction interventions aimed at providers. This secondary analysis of a larger study is aimed at evaluating perceptions of providers regarding the underlying causes of racial health care disparities and their views of who is responsible for reducing them. Methods: We surveyed 232 providers at 3 Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers. Results: Sixty-nine percent of participants believed that minority patients in the United States receive lower quality health care. Most participants (64%) attributed differences in quality of care for minority patients in the VA health care system primarily to patients' socioeconomic status, followed by patient behavior (43%) and provider behaviors (33%). In contrast, most participants believed that the VA and other health care organizations (75%) and providers (70%) bear the responsibility for reducing disparities, while less than half (45%) believed that patients were responsible. Among provider-level contributors to disparities, providers' poor communication was the most widely endorsed (48%), while differences in prescribing of medications (13%) and in provision of specialty referrals (12%) were the least endorsed. Conclusions: Although most providers in the study did not believe that providers contribute to disparities, they do believe that they, along with health care organizations, have the responsibility to help reduce them. Interventions might focus on directly offering providers concrete ways that they can help reduce disparities, rather than focusing on simply raising awareness about disparities and their contributions to them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-448
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Equity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Johanne Eliacin et al. 2019; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


  • health care disparities
  • minority patients
  • providers
  • veterans

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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