Clinicians’ attitudes about race are associated with markers of poor communication during patient visits and poor ratings, particularly among black patients, reports a new study published yesterday in the American Journal of Public Health.
In a study of 40 primary care clinicians and 269 patients in urban community-based practices, researchers measured clinicians’ general race bias and race and compliance stereotyping, defined as a doctor’s bias or assumed belief over the patient’s likelihood of adherence based on race. Researchers found that among black patients, general race bias was associated with more clinician verbal dominance, lower patient positive affect and poorer ratings of interpersonal care. Race and compliance stereotyping was associated with longer visits, slower speech, less patient centeredness and poorer ratings of interpersonal care. Among white patients, bias was associated with more verbal dominance and better ratings of interpersonal care; race and compliance stereotyping was associated with less verbal dominance, shorter visits, faster speech, more patient centeredness, higher clinician positive affect and lower ratings of some aspects of interpersonal care.
The study’s authors from John Hopkins University concluded, “Interpersonal bias in health care is only one of the manifestations of racial discrimination in our society; however, health professionals can serve as influential advocates for social justice by encouraging open discourse about the existence of bias in health care and upholding the elimination of health care disparities as a local, national, and global priority.”