Table of Contents
ISRN Emergency Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 340273, 4 pages
Research Article

Racial Disparities in Healthcare: Are We Prepared for the Future? Brief Report on Emergency Medical Services in a County Health Department in California

1Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
2School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

Received 21 August 2012; Accepted 6 September 2012

Academic Editors: C. C. Chang, W. Kloeck, A. Pazin-Filho, and M. Pocar

Copyright © 2012 Ken Russell Coelho and Virginia T. Nguyen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Demographic trends indicate that ethnic minority populations constitute 25 percent of the current population and will be the majority of the United States population in 2050. Forty percent of the demographic in California are ethnic minorities making encounters between healthcare workers and patients from different cultural backgrounds commonplace. Research also indicates that ethnic minority patients are more likely to utilize emergency medical services as an entry point into the health system due to lack of medical insurance and access to primary care. Our qualitative study attempts to understand health disparities through focus groups with 76 patients and their feedback on the use of emergency medical services. Patients revealed challenges in both service provision and delivery of emergency medical services. Implications include the development of cultural competence training programs and the selection of diverse groups of county emergency medical first responders in California.