Blacks Have Greater Distrust of U.S. Health Care System
Blacks are "significantly more likely than whites to report low trust in health care providers," according to a study published on Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the Washington Post reports.
For the study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania surveyed 432 blacks and 522 whites from across the U.S. and found low levels of trust among nearly 45% of blacks, compared with 33.5% of whites. According to the study, the lowest level of trust was found among blacks who sought care in locations other than a doctor's office.
The researchers attributed blacks' greater lack of trust to the fact that more blacks are uninsured, forcing them to seek care in emergency departments and clinics, where they cannot build up a "rapport with doctors and nurses," the Post reports (Washington Post, 4/25).
Lead researcher Chanita Hughes Halbert of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues said frequent shift changes and busy staff in hospital EDs could interfere with patients' relationships with physicians.
The study does not find that the race of the physician was a factor in the distrust among blacks. According to the authors, the findings suggest that "increased access to health care in settings where there is greater opportunity to develop effective interpersonal relationships with providers, regardless of the provider's racial or ethnic background, may improve trust."
The report concludes that providers and staff might need training to improve communication with both blacks and whites, particularly in settings that serve more black patients. "The interpersonal relationship between patients and health care providers is a critical component of patient trust," Hughes Halbert and her colleagues write (Reuters/Boston Globe, 4/25).
The report is available online.