health disparities; race/ethnicity; language preference; patient support; communication; survey research


Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Other Communication | Race and Ethnicity


Regulatory and accreditation organizations have advocated open visitation policies and allowance of support persons of patients’ choosing, but it is unknown if support is allowed equitably. Data from hospitalized patients were analyzed to determine access to support persons, stratified by patient-reported race/ethnicity, language, sex, age, and education. A multivariate regression model was constructed using race and language, controlling for site and patient sex, education and age. Additionally, sites’ policies explicitly allowing support persons were correlated to reports of allowance of support persons. Among 1,196 respondents, 17% reported not being allowed a support person or being unsure. African American patients had 2.4 times greater odds of reporting non-allowance of support than their white counterparts, while speakers of a language other than English or Spanish had 3.9 times greater odds. There were no significant differences noted between sites with a policy allowing patient support persons and those with no policy or one in development. Most patients report being allowed a support person, but African Americans and those speaking a language other than English or Spanish have greater odds of reporting not being allowed a support person. Reliable methods of informing all patients of this right are needed.