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Collecting Patient Race/Ethnicity and Primary Language Data in Ambulatory Care Settings: A Case Study in Methodology

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Objective. To collect patient race/ethnicity and language (r/e/l) in an ambulatory care setting.

Data Sources/Study Setting. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), December 2006–May 2008.

Study Design. Three pilot studies: (1) Comparing mail versus telephone versus clinic visit questionnaire distribution; (2) comparing the front desk method (FDM) versus exam room method (ERM) in the clinic visit; and (3) determining resource allocation necessary for data entry.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods. Studies were planned and executed by PAMF's Quality and Planning division.

Principal Findings. Collecting r/e/l data during clinic visits elicited the highest response rate. The FDM yielded higher response rate than the ERM. One full-time equivalent is initially necessary for data entry.

Conclusions. Conducting sequential studies can help guide r/e/l collection in a short time frame.

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