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Second National Healthcare Disparities Report from AHRQ

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently released the 2005 National Healthcare Disparities Report, building on the benchmark data released in last year's inaugural report. The report examines quality of care for racial and ethnic minority groups, low-income Americans, and other vulnerable populations.

The report highlights nine efforts that, over the past year, have moved the nation closer to this goal. Of these, three were Fund-supported projects:

  • American Public Health Association's National Public Health Week

    This event highlighted innovative ways in which communities all over the country are working to end disparities in all aspects of health care. A database of models and best practices was widely disseminated.

  • Health Research and Educational Trust/Commonwealth Fund report on collection of racial and ethnic data by hospitals, Who, When, and How: The Current State of Race, Ethnicity, and Primary Language Data Collection in Hospitals

    To identify current practices in race, ethnicity, and primary language data collection, the researchers conducted site visits at six hospitals and surveyed 1,000 hospitals nationwide.
  • Institute of Medicine report on health literacy, Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion

    This report found that nearly half of all American adults—90 million people—have difficulty understanding and using health information. There is a higher hospitalization rate and use of emergency services among such patients. The report recommends that health care systems develop programs to eliminate the negative effects of low health literacy and support health education and promotion.

"The successful release of this report is a critical step toward identifying opportunities to improve care for vulnerable patient populations," says Anne Beal, M.D., senior program officer for the Program on Quality of Care for Underserved Populations at The Commonwealth Fund. "With the release of this report on an annual basis, the nation will have the ability to monitor where we have improved, as well as where we need to work further to eliminate disparities."