Methods: Study participants were a purposive sample of 430 African American men aged 18 and older who attended a community health fair geared toward minority men and hosted by a large Midwest hospital system in 2011. Respondent mean age was 54.35 years and they were relatively well educated with just under 40% having completed at least high school. The outcome measure was the extent to which patients were given the opportunity ask their health-related questions during medical visits.
Results: The present study found statistically significant bivariate differences between patients who could ask their health-related questions and patients who were not given the chance to. Patients who were able to ask their health-related questions were older (56 compared to 51 years, F (1,428)=15.67, P<. 001) and had less comorbidity on average. They also had higher educational attainment, higher annual incomes, and were more likely to be married. Healthcare access factors were also significantly associated with getting to ask health related questions. Nearly 70% of respondents who reported having any type of insurance and 70% of those with one or more than one physician were able to ask their health related questions. Finally, nearly three fourths of those who received care in a doctors’ office reported being able ask their health-related questions compared to under a third of those who received care in a hospital ER.
Implications: Patient-centered communication, namely question-asking, is critically important to the health care experience and outcomes but may be out of reach for older multimorbid and low-income African American men who face barriers to healthcare access. Health care professionals, particularly in primary care settings, need additional mechanisms to both assess and improve the quality of patient-provider communication with patients, taking into account age, race, gender, and health status.