Poor communication with Hispanic patients is adversely affecting the quality of care to the largest minority group in the US, according to a new survey from The Jeffrey Group, an independent communications agency targeting Latin audiences, and KCI Partners, a strategic market research and consulting firm. The main focus of the study, which surveyed 422 physicians across the country, was to uncover barriers to receiving adequate treatment and to measure the effectiveness of communication vehicles in educating Hispanic patients about their health.


“Given the prevalence of topics such as healthcare reform and the much-awaited US Census results, we felt it was perfect timing to conduct a study measuring the views and knowledge-base of average Hispanic patients,” says Mike Valdes-Fauli, president of The Jeffrey Group. “With a booming US Hispanic population, it is important to identify best practices in communicating with Latinos to ensure optimal care, and hopefully provide insights to pharmaceutical companies seeking to inform and educate that audience.”


Twenty-four percent of physicians cited poor patient understanding of disease severity was “almost always a barrier” to treatment and 21 percent cited it as “frequently a barrier.” Other factors cited by physicians as almost always being a barrier to treatment were preconceived notions/myths (23 percent of physicians) and conflicting advice about treatment from family members (21 percent of physicians).


Despite these barriers, nearly 50 percent of respondents cited that community organizations, physicians, physician assistants and nurses are among those doing the most effective job at communicating about healthcare issues with Hispanic patients.


On the other hand, most physicians think that pharmaceutical companies do a poor job of communicating, lacking a thorough understanding of multicultural patient needs. In fact, only 12 percent reported that pharmaceutical companies understand the healthcare needs of Hispanic patients very well.  Even fewer physicians (7 percent) indicated that pharmaceutical companies are doing an adequate job in communicating with Hispanics about solutions to their healthcare needs.


Most physicians agree that one-on-one time with staff and printed educational materials in Spanish are the most important and effective ways to communicate with these patients. Furthermore, physicians agree that media plays a key role in informing patients.  Seventy-one percent of physicians cited that, outside of their offices, television stories are a very or extremely effective communication vehicle to help educate these patients.