Racial/ethnic variation in perceptions of medical information sources in Durham County, North Carolina. North Carolina medical journal Williams, J. E., Anstrom, K. J., Friedman, J. Y., Schulman, K. A. 2008; 68 (6): 391-8


Concerns about health and health care disparities have led some groups to promote better communication of medical information as a potential means of empowering patients to overcome barriers to health care and to practice healthy behaviors. We examined the independent effect of race/ethnicity on perceptions of the usefulness of different sources of health information.We analyzed data from a cross-sectional telephone survey of black, Latino, and white adults (n = 515) in Durham County North Carolina, in 2002. Respondents rated the usefulness of medical information sources, nonmedical information sources, and media. We used logistic regression to determine the effect of race/ethnicity on ratings of information sources, adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, and health status factors.Compared to white respondents, Latinos and black respondents were more likely to perceive as useful the local health department, ministers/churches, community centers, television, and radio. Latinos were less likely than white and black respondents to report the pharmacy as a useful source of medical information.Some findings may be particular to Durham County, especially those based on the Latino subgroup. Also, the response rate (43%) suggests that nonresponse bias may have affected our results. Finally perceived usefulness may affect one's intent to act on information but may not correlate with the benefit gained from a particular source.There are substantial racial/ethnic differences in perceptions of certain medical information sources. Medical information designed for minority populations may be more effective if disseminated through particular sources.

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