Patient-Provider Communication Quality, 2002-2016: A Population-based Study of Trends and Racial Differences

Gawon Cho, Virginia W. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Effective patient-provider communication (PPC) can improve clinical outcomes and therapeutic alliance. While PPC may have improved over time due to the implementation of various policies for patient-centered care, its nationwide trend remains unclear. Objective: The objective of this study was to examine trends in PPC quality among US adults and whether trends vary with race-ethnicity. Research Design: A repeated cross-sectional study. Participants: We examine noninstitutionalized civilian adults who made 1 or more health care visits in the last 12 months and self-completed the mail-back questionnaire in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2002-2016. Measures: Outcomes include 4 top-box measures, each representing the odds of patients reporting that their providers always (vs. never, sometimes, usually) used a given communication behavior in the past 12 months regarding listening carefully, explaining things understandably, showing respect, and spending enough time. A linear mean composite score (the average of ordinal responses for the behaviors above) is also examined as an outcome. Exposures include time period and race-ethnicity. Results: Among 124,158 adults (181,864 observations), the quality of PPC increases monotonically between 2002 and 2016 for all outcomes. Between the first and last periods, the odds of high-quality PPC increase by 37% [95% confidence interval (CI)=32%-43%] for listen, 25% (95% CI=20%-30%) for explain, 41% (95% CI=35%-47%) for respect, and 37% (95% CI=31%-43%) for time. The composite score increases by 3.24 (95% CI=2.87-3.60) points. While increasing trends are found among all racial groups, differences exist at each period. Asians report the lowest quality throughout the study period for all outcomes, while Blacks report the highest quality. Although racial differences narrow over time, most changes are not significant. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that providers are increasingly likely to use patient-centered communication strategies. While racial differences have narrowed, Asians report the lowest quality throughout the study period, warranting future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-331
Number of pages8
JournalMedical care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • asian disadvantage
  • health disparities
  • patient-centered care
  • patient-provider communication
  • temporal trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Patient-Provider Communication Quality, 2002-2016: A Population-based Study of Trends and Racial Differences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this