Patients of color more likely to face inequities in health care, survey finds

For most people, going to the doctor’s office requires some preparation, maybe even an internal pep talk, to prepare for being told to exercise more or to calm fears about needles.

But is dressing appropriately to avoid being treated unfairly or even to be prepared to be insulted?

A newly released poll from the health policy research group KFF found that many patients of color, including three in five black respondents, resort to such measures at least sometimes when seeing their doctors.

The poll found that 55% of black respondents said they believed they had to be very careful about their appearance to be treated fairly when going to the doctor. This is similar to rates among Hispanic and Alaska Native patients and nearly twice as high as among white patients.

Nearly 30% of black respondents were prepared to be humiliated, a rate that was also about twice that of white patients.

Survey respondent Christine Wright, 60, told The Associated Press it was exhausting.

Wright, who is Black, said she faced discrimination for years, including at one point being called a racial slur by a nurse. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 and recently found a doctor she trusted. But she still makes sure to dress appropriately for any medical appointments, put on jewelry, put on a nice coat, and make sure her hair is done.

She braced herself for looks and comments from doctors and staff. They can’t control you,” she told herself. “They can’t. It doesn’t matter what they say about you. Because you’re not like that.

Experts say that while more than 90% of respondents said they had not been treated unfairly or disrespectfully in a health care setting because of their race or ethnic background in the past three years, expectations of unequal treatment may Impact on patient-physician interactions.This is a particular concern because of the huge disparities in health outcomes among racial groups in the United States

KFF President Drew Altman said the survey shows the impact racism and discrimination continue to have on people’s health care experiences.

Dr. Allison Bryant, an obstetrician at Massachusetts General Hospital who was not involved in the survey, said the survey provides important but not necessarily surprising results.

Bryant, who also serves as the hospital system’s deputy chief health equity officer, said she hears similar stories from patients of color and sees it in the system’s own patient satisfaction data. As a black woman who has been through this experience herself, she often double-checks her ID or wedding ring to see if her ID or wedding ring is visible to prevent others from guessing.

“I think everyone goes through this to some extent,” Bryant said. But I understand why this is more exaggerated among people of color because they have a history of being treated poorly.

Bryant said this behavior is indicative of a deeper problem that could impact critical interactions between doctors and patients.

If you expect someone to treat you badly, you may be more nervous and you may not be able to speak correctly, she said. There’s a deeper hurt associated with this than meets the eye, like when I put on high heels and put on some lipstick.

Jeymie Luna Roldn, 45, also participated in the investigation. She believes her lack of previous health insurance or her imperfect English contributed to her bad experience with the doctor. She spoke to The Associated Press in Spanish.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m Latino, said Roalden, who is from Lake Worth, Florida. So when I have a date, I have to dress up, put on earrings, put on makeup so they don’t see me in my work clothes. As the saying goes, Como te miro, te trato.

What this means: Your appearance is treated.

Although a high proportion said they were prepared to deal with insults or felt their appearance would affect how they were treated by doctors, 93% said they had not felt disrespected because of their race or ethnic background Being treated unfairly or disrespectfully in a health care setting in the past three years.

But there are still huge differences between racial groups. Asian and Hispanic respondents were three times more likely than white respondents to say they were mistreated in a health care setting because of their race, and black respondents were six times more likely.

Outside of the doctor’s office, 58% of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 54% of black respondents, 50% of Hispanics and 42% of Asians said they had experienced at least a few times in their daily lives in the past. A type of discrimination year. This includes receiving poor service in shops and restaurants, being threatened, harassed, or being seen as unintelligent, or being criticized for speaking a language other than English.

While this shows that health care is just one of the settings where discrimination persists, being disrespected at a car dealership or disrespected in a department store poses another risk, Bryant said. A dismissive cardiologist who doesn’t order the right tests because a patient doesn’t look up to snuff can be even more dangerous.

She said, “Honestly, the consequences in health care are really shocking and really scary to understand what people need to do in order to be taken seriously, to be seen as a whole person.” I think the data really illustrates that.

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