LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Doctors with a majority Latino practice believe that physicians treating mostly White patients provide better care, according to a UCLA study released today.

The perception is apparently due to the doctors’ belief that they spend an inadequate amount of time with Latino patients; that Latinos are unable to afford proper care; and the patients frequently ignore recommended treatments.

The study in the current edition of the journal Health Affairs also found that doctors with a largely Latino practice say they have a hard time communicating with their patients.

Researchers used data from the 2008 Community Tracking Physician Survey, a nationally representative sample of U.S. physicians that included demographic information and patient characteristics.

“From this survey, we analyzed physicians’ self-reported ability to provide high-quality care to Latinos and compared it to that of physicians treating primarily Whites,” said Arturo Vargas-Bustamante, an assistant professor of health services at the UCLA School of Public Health and co-lead author of the study with Jie Chen, an assistant professor at the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island.

Latinos differ from other minority patients in their socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, as well as their patterns of healthcare access, use and spending, and those differences influence physicians’ perceptions of the quality of care they deliver, Vargas-Bustamante said.

“We wanted to understand the challenges that providers face in delivering high-quality care to under-served populations,” Vargas-Bustamante said.

Researchers also found that physicians still must contend with all the common problems of providing healthcare regardless of ethnicity, including insurers’ rejection of claim decisions, medical errors, a relative lack of available specialists and the lack of timely transmission of reports among physicians.