Agreeable extroverts are more likely to be highly satisfied with their health care, according to a study published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal. But the study also found that non-Pākehā New Zealanders lower satisfaction rates with healthcare was due to other factors than psychological or demographic characteristics.

The study is based on the 15,822 respondents to the 2014-15 New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study which asked people about their satisfaction with health care access and also included questions about their personality traits, location and socio-economic situation

Overall the University of Auckland study, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal today, found that the majority of participants (68.4%) were highly satisfied with their access to health care, 25.3 per cent were moderately satisfied and 6.1 per cent had low satisfaction

But when this was broken down by ethnicity it was found that nearly 72 per cent of European/ Pākehā respondents were highly satisfied compared to 61 per cent for Māori, 62 per cent for Asian and 63 per cent for Pacific.

The study did find various psychological factors or personality traits were linked to higher satisfaction with people scoring higher on extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and honesty expressing greater satisfaction. And people scoring high on neuroticism (anxiety and insecurity are example traits) or on ‘openness to experience’ (for example curiousity and imaginativeness) had expressed lower satisfaction levels.

But when it controlled for demographic and psychological factors it found that that Māori, Asian and Pacific were still found to express lower satisfaction with their healthcare access than European/ Pākehā.

“This result can be linked to findings that ethnic minorities are more inclined to experience language, information and cultural barriers to healthcare, and the lack of cultural competence among medical professionals,” said the researchers.

“Our findings further suggest that perceptions of low healthcare access among ethnic minorities cannot be fully explained by population differences in socio-economic or personality factors.” They believed that to increase healthcare access for ethnic minorities, it was essential to develop tailored health interventions targeting the unique cultural barriers faced by Māori, Asian and Pacific people.

The study did find that similar to previous studies that people with lower incomes or lower socio-economic status and higher deprivation exhibited decreased satisfaction with their healthcare access.

It also found that people report higher self-rated health expressed great satisfaction – along with people who had a partner, lived in an urban area or had no children.

Study: Demographic and psychological correlates of satisfaction with healthcare access in New Zealand by Carol HJ Lee and Chris Sibley, New Zealand Medical Journal, Vol 130, 1459

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