Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Judy J. Jackson

Second Advisor

Dr. Kenneth M. Tyler

Abstract

Health disparities in minorities and those of low socioeconomic status persist despite efforts to eliminate potential causes. Differences in the delivery of services can result in different healthcare outcomes and therefore, a health disparity. Some of this difference in care may attribute to discrimination resulting from clinical biases and stereotyping which may provide a possible source for the persistence of health disparities. Health disparities may occur because the delivery of services at some level is inadequate. Disparities resulting from the quality and quantity of care delivered by a practitioner result in differentiated delivery of healthcare, thus unequal health outcomes. The purpose of this study is to evaluate and identify potential disparities in routine screening practices of physician assistants.
A randomized sample of practicing physician assistants in Kentucky were analyzed (N= 112) to determine if the race or socioeconomic status of a patient influenced their likelihood of offering different routine screening recommendations and screening test recommendations. Clinical vignettes were created with only the race and socioeconomic status of the patient modified, resulting in four separate vignettes. Through the use of a survey instrument, participants were randomly assigned to one of four written clinical vignettes. Statistical analysis using a MANOVA revealed that the race of a patient had a statistically significant multivariate effect on differences in screening recommendations and race and socioeconomic status had significant multivariate effects on screening test recommendations.
Study results suggest that race and socioeconomic status continues to be a significant factor in the prevalence of healthcare disparities. More importantly, this study reveals that Physician Assistants may provide differentiated care based on a patient’s race. Limitations and future directions for this study may be used to examine PA educational curriculums for the inclusion of health disparities and possible continuing medical education opportunities for practicing PAs.

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