Thursday, July 10, 2014
A couple of modest observations
My colleagues and I analyzed a whole lot of medical visits by people with HIV and we did find some differences depending on patients' race and ethnicity. (Click on the link and you also get to see an unflattering picture of me, engaged in the bizarre practice of neck binding.)
Black patients tend to talk less than do other patients in physician visits -- this has been observed before. And doctors talk to Black and Hispanic patients about medication adherence more than they do with other patients, regardless of whether there are any indications that the patient is non-adherent (which is the fancy term for not taking the pills on schedule). These docs are all white or Asian, BTW, except for two African American women at one site. So we can't sort out any effect of physician ethnicity or provider-patient concordance from this data. But on the other hand, that's the real world. There just aren't a lot of Black or Latino physicians.
Not sure what this means or whether these disparate communication patterns are a big problem -- just worth noting that ethnicity still matters. The call for a "race blind" society is fallacious. We aren't race blind and we won't be any time soon, so pretending we are just evades the issue.