Whites, African-Americans better rate medical care experiences when seeing same-race physicians

s of 252 patients (142 African-Americans and 110 whites) receiving care from 31 physicians (18 African-Americans and 13 whites) at 16 primary care clinics in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas.

They approached patients in the waiting rooms and asked for permission to tape record the medical visits. Before the visit, patients completed a short survey about their health status. After the visit, they completed another survey that rated the physician's decision-making style and asked about their overall satisfaction with the visit and if they would recommend the physician to a friend.

The audiotapes were analyzed for length of the medical visit, speed of the patients' and physicians' speech, the number of physician statements vs. patient statements, the nature of the conversation (i.e. biomedical, psychosocial, partnership-building, etc.), and the overall emotional tone (friendliness, interest, responsiveness, engagement) of the visit. Surveys were evaluated for the degree to which physicians involve patients in medical decisions and overall patient satisfaction.

Patients who visited physicians of the same race said they were more involved in the decision process than those who saw different-race physicians. Patients seeing same-race physicians also had a higher probability of saying they were satisfied with the visit and that they would recommend the physician to a friend.

Members of other ethnic groups were not included in this study because their representation in the clinical sites visited was too small, Cooper said.

The study was supported by research grants from the Commonwealth Fund, the Bayer Institute for Health Care Communication, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Co-authors were Debra L. Roter, Dr.P.H.; Rachel L. Johnson; Daniel E. Ford, M.D., M.P.H.; Donald M. Steinwachs, Ph.D.; and Neil R. Powe, M.D., M.P.H.


Contact: Karen Blum
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

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