Background: While it is well established that significant health outcome disparities exist across patients of varying socio-economic status (SES) with established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), disparities in patients’ healthcare experiences are not well investigated. We explore income level differences in four central tenets of patient-reported healthcare experience (access to care, provider communication, shared decision making and provider satisfaction) as measured by the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey, in a nationally representative adult US population with established ASCVD.
Methods: The study population consisted of 8223 individuals (age ≥ 18 years) representing 21.6 million with established ASCVD (self-reported or ICD-9 diagnosis) reporting a usual source of care in the 2010-2013 pooled Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) cohort. We assessed the responses for each item as: a) difficult access to care (always/almost difficult), b) ineffective communication and shared decision making (never/sometimes), and c) poor provider satisfaction (lowest quartile on a scale of 0-10). We examined the relationship between scores in the lowest quartile of each domain composite scores, derived using the weighted average response from each items scores, with patients’ SES, using the high-income group as reference.
Results: Lower SES was consistently associated with greater perceived difficulties in access, poor provider-patient communication, less shared decision making, as well as lower provider satisfaction (Table). Participants classified as poor vs. high income were 47% (95% CI 1.17-1.83) more likely to report difficulty accessing care, 39% (95% CI 1.09-1.78) and 26% (95% CI 0.99-1.60) reported a higher likelihood of experiencing poor communication and shared decision making respectively, as well as a 66% (95% CI 1.31-2.11) higher likelihood of reporting lower provider satisfaction.
Conclusion: Among patients with established ASCVD, significant SES disparities exist in all domains of patient reported healthcare experience quality of care metrics. Targeted policies focusing on improving communication, engagement and satisfaction are needed to enhance patient healthcare experience among high-risk vulnerable populations.