Study finds more satisfaction in same-race doctor-patient relationships

October 31, 2002

A recent study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that patients who are of the same race as their doctor report more satisfaction with their physician. When given the opportunity to choose their own physician, patients were also more likely to pick doctors of their same race. In addition, white respondents were more likely to be race concordant with their physician when compared to African-American, Hispanic, and Asian American respondents. "Is Doctor-Patient Race Concordance Associated with Greater Satisfaction with Care?" was published in the September 2002 issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Thomas A LaVeist, PhD, a study co-author and associate professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said, "Although the theory that patients prefer a doctor of their own race is quite popular, that hypothesis had never been thoroughly tested. We wanted to determine if it was indeed true that patients express greater satisfaction if they have a physician of the same race group."

Previous studies have found that patients who are satisfied with their physicians were more likely to keep follow-up appointments and comply with a prescribed medical regimen and less likely to initiate a malpractice suit in the event of an adverse medical outcome.

The study was conducted using the 1994 Commonwealth Fund Minority Health Survey, which is a nationally representative sample of adults 18 years of age and older residing in households with telephones within the 48 contiguous United States. Researchers examined a sample of African-American, white, Hispanic, and Asian American respondents.

With the exception of Asian Americans, the study respondents were most likely to have a white physician. Asian Americans were more likely to be race concordant. In addition, African-American and Hispanic respondents were more likely than whites to have physicians from minority groups other than their own. Persons who had a choice in the selection of their physician and those for whom English is a secondary language (Hispanic and Asian American respondents) were significantly more likely to have a doctor of their same race.

The data examined by researchers does not allow for a fuller exploration of why patients choose to be race concordant with their physician. However, researchers speculate three hypotheses to explain the pattern; the first being that patients are more likely to trust and feel greater comfort with physicians of the same race group because of an intrinsic sense of connection, whether it is deserved or undeserved.

The second hypothesis is that patients have negative opinions of physicians not in their race group, which may be from lingering distrust between races. And finally, researchers question if patients may be reacting to past experiences or the experiences of others where physicians not of their same race were less courteous or less engaging or patients may be reacting to positive experiences with physicians of their same race group.

"It has been projected that minority populations in the United Sates will be, by the mid-century, a majority of the population and the demand for minority physicians will likely increase. However, other studies have shown that at the current rates of production, the supply of minority physicians will fall short of future demand," said Dr. LaVeist.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers suggest that the avoidance of these shortcomings can be achieved by increasing the number of minority physicians, while placing greater emphasis on improving the ability of physicians to interact with patients who are racially, ethnically, or otherwise culturally different than they are.
-end-
Amani Nuru-Jeter, teaching assistant in the School's Department of Health Policy and Management, co-authored the study.

The study was supported by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund.

Link to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at http://www.jhsph.edu.
Information on automatic e-mail delivery of science and medical news releases from Johns Hopkins University is available at http://www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/listserv.html

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.