AHA Disparities Toolkit - Staff Training

To ensure that data are collected accurately and consistently, organizations need to invest in training staff. Staff should be partners in this process. The training should provide information about why it is important to collect these data, how to collect data, and how to answer questions or address concerns from patients. The links below provide tools and resources for staff training.


Although it is not necessary to have lengthy scripts, it is important to clearly communicate why you are asking patients to provide information about their race/ethnicity and language. Depending on what type of resources you have available, a script can be read directly from the computer screen or you can simply have it written on a laminated card to keep at your station. You will need to work with IT staff to ensure it is incorporated on the registration screen if you decide to go this route. The specific wording for how to ask the question is:

Remember to ask the patient or designated caregiver to self-identify their race and ethnic background:

"We want to make sure that all our patients get the best care possible. We would like you to tell us your racial/ethnic background so that we can review the treatment that all patients receive and make sure that everyone gets the highest quality of care."

Then ask:

"What is your race?"

(Please refer to How to Ask the Questions section for specific categories.)

If people express concern about confidentiality or who will see this information, state the following:

"The only people who see this information are registration staff, administrators for the hospital, and the people involved in quality improvement and oversight, and the confidentiality of what you say is protected by law."

Addressing Concerns from Patients

We have found that when you explain why you are asking people to report their race/ethnicity/sex/primary language/disability status and do so in a nonthreatening and polite manner, resistance to providing this information is minimized. There may be individuals who do not understand the question or do not want to respond to it. The response matrix (PPT) provides you with some guideposts. It is very important to remember that if someone does not want to answer these questions, simply record "declined" and move on with the registration process.