Racial and ethnic minorities face disparities in access to health care. Culturally competent care might lessen these disparities. Few studies have studied the patients' view of providers' cultural competence, especially in psychiatric care. We aimed to examine the associations of race, ethnicity, and mental health status with patient-reported importance of provider cultural competence.
Our retrospective, population-based, cross-sectional study used data extracted from self-reported questionnaires of adults aged at least 18 years who participated in the US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS; 2017 cycle). We included data on all respondents who answered supplementary cultural competence questions and the Adult Functioning and Disability survey within the NHIS. We classified participants as having anxiety or depression if they reported symptoms at least once a week or more often, and responded that the last time they had symptoms the intensity was “somewhere between a little and a lot” or “a lot.” Participant answers to cultural competency survey questions (participant desire for providers to understand or share their culture, and frequency of access to providers who share their culture) were the outcome variables. Multivariable ordinal logistic regressions were used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for the outcome variables in relation to sociodemographic characteristics (including race and ethnicity), self-reported health status, and presence of symptoms of depression, anxiety, or both.
3910 people had available data for analysis. Mean age was 52 years (IQR 36–64). 1422 (39·2%, sample weight adjusted) of the participants were men and 2488 (60·9%) were women. 3290 (82·7%) were White, 346 (9·1%) were Black or African American, 31 (0·8%) were American Indian or Alaskan Native, 144 (4·8%) were Asian American, and 99 (2·6%) were Mixed Race. 380 (12·5%) identified as Hispanic ethnicity and 3530 (87·5%) as non-Hispanic. Groups who were more likely to express a desire for their providers to share or understand their culture included participants who had depression symptoms (vs those without depression or anxiety symptoms, aOR 1·57 [95% CI 1·13–2·19], p=0·008) and participants who were of a racial minority group (Black vs White, aOR 2·54 [1·86–3·48], p=0·008; Asian American vs White, aOR 2·57 [1·66–3·99], p<0·001; and Mixed Race vs White, aOR 1·69 [1·01–2·82], p=0·045) or ethnic minority group (Hispanic vs non-Hispanic, aOR 2·69 [2·02–3·60], p<0·001); these groups were less likely to report frequently being able to see providers who shared their culture (patients with depression symptoms vs those without depression or anxiety symptoms, aOR 0·63 (0·41–0·96); p=0·030; Black vs White, aOR 0·56 [0·38–0·84], p=0·005; Asian American vs White, aOR 0·38 [0·20–0·72], p=0·003; Mixed Race vs White, aOR 0·35 [0·19–0·64], p=0·001; Hispanic vs non-Hispanic, aOR 0·61 [0·42–0·89], p=0·010). On subgroup analysis of participants reporting depression symptoms, patients who identified their race as Black or African American, or American Indian or Alaskan Native, and those who identified as Hispanic ethnicity, were more likely to report a desire for provider cultural competence.
Racial and ethnic disparities exist in how patients perceive their providers' cultural competence, and disparities are pronounced in patients with depression. Developing a culturally competent and humble approach to care is crucial for mental health providers.