Unconscious racial bias among physicians results in lower patient satisfaction

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

April 4, 2012

Physicians with an unconscious racial bias spoke slowly and dominated conversations with African-American patients, according to a study published in the March 2012 issue of American Journal of Public Health.

Patients perceived the racial bias and reported feeling less trustful, respected, and engaged in healthcare decisions. Researchers used two versions of a commonly used association test to determine whether physicians possessed an unconscious racial bias: one test related directly to racial bias, while the other gauged whether physicians thought patients of different races were compliant with medical advice.

Researchers studied audio recording of 269 patients visiting 40 primary care physicians in the Baltimore area. The majority of the patients were female, and 80% of patients were African-American, compared to 22% of the physicians. The remaining physicians were white (48%) or Asian (30%), and two-thirds of the physicians were women. Researchers concluded that physicians’ racial biases resulted in poor ratings of care, particularly among African-American patients.

Read the study.

Source: HealthLeaders Media