Influence of race and socioeconomic status on engagement in pediatric primary care

Elizabeth D. Cox, Kirstin A. Nackers, Henry N. Young, Megan A. Moreno, Joseph F. Levy, Rita M. Mangione-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective: To understand the association of race/ethnicity with engagement in pediatric primary care and examine how any racial/ethnic disparities are influenced by socioeconomic status. Methods: Visit videos and parent surveys were obtained for 405 children who visited for respiratory infections. Family and physician engagement in key visit tasks (relationship building, information exchange, and decision making) were coded. Two parallel regression models adjusting for covariates and clustering by physician were constructed: (1) race/ethnicity only and (2) race/ethnicity with SES (education and income). Results: With and without adjustment for SES, physicians seeing Asian families spoke 24% fewer relationship building utterances, compared to physicians seeing White, non-Latino families (. p<. 0.05). Latino families gathered 24% less information than White, non-Latino families (. p<. 0.05), but accounting for SES mitigates this association. Similarly, African American families were significantly less likely to be actively engaged in decision making (OR. =. 0.32; . p<. 0.05), compared to White, non-Latino families, but adjusting for SES mitigated this association. Conclusion: While engagement during pediatric visits differed by the family's race/ethnicity, many of these differences were eliminated by accounting for socioeconomic status. Practice implications: Effective targeting and evaluation of interventions to reduce health disparities through improving engagement must extend beyond race/ethnicity to consider socioeconomic status more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Decision making
  • Education
  • Engagement
  • Income
  • Negative binomial regression
  • Pediatrics
  • Primary care
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS)
  • Upper respiratory infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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