Racial and Ethnic Segregation in Primary Care and Association of Practice Composition With Quality of Care

Dong Ding, Benjamin Zhu, Sherry Glied

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To assess the extent of segregation between racial and ethnic minority and White patients across primary care physicians and the association of practice panel racial/ethnic composition with the quality of care delivered. Research Design: We examined the degree of racial/ethnic dissimilarity (a measure of segregation) in visits and the allocation of patient visits by different groups across primary care physicians (PCPs). We assessed the regression-adjusted relationship between the racial/ethnic composition of PCP practices and measures of the quality of care delivered. We compared outcomes in the pre-Affordable Care Act (ACA) and post-ACA (2006-2010/2011-2016) periods. Subjects: We analyzed data on all primary care visits to office-based practitioners in the 2006-2016 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. PCPs were defined as general/family practice or internal medicine physicians. We excluded cases with imputed race or ethnicity information. For the quality of care analyses, we limited the sample to adults. Results: Racial and ethnic minority patients remain concentrated within a small group of PCPs: 35% of PCPs accounted for 80% of non-White patients' visits; 63% of non-White (or White) patients would need to switch physicians to make the distribution of visits across PCPs proportional between the groups. We observed little correlation between the PCPs panel's racial/ethnic composition and quality of care. These patterns did not change substantially over time. Conclusions: PCPs remain segregated, but the racial/ethnic composition of a practice panel is not associated with the quality of health care that individual patients receive in either the pre or post-ACA passage periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-221
Number of pages6
JournalMedical care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • dissimilarity
  • guideline-recommended primary care
  • primary care physicians
  • quality
  • racial and ethnic segregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Racial and Ethnic Segregation in Primary Care and Association of Practice Composition With Quality of Care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this