In analyzing a national survey of more than 3,800 blacks, Latinos and whites, Dr. Frederick Chen, acting assistant professor in the University of Washington School of Medicine, and colleagues found that nearly 25 percent of blacks and 33 percent of Latinos prefer that their personal physician be of their same race or ethnicity. In turn, those patients who have racial preferences for their physicians are more likely to rate their physician highly if they are in a race-concordant relationship.
Blacks who prefer a black physician and have a black physician are nearly three times as likely to rate their physician as excellent than are blacks who prefer a black physician and have a non-black physician (57 percent vs. 20 percent). Though the results were not statistically significant, Latinos who prefer and have a Latino physician rate their physician higher than Latinos who prefer a Latino physician but have a non-Latino physician (40 percent vs. 29 percent).
"These findings may point to new ways to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care," Chen said. "Addressing discrimination in the health care system, identifying the patients who want same-race physicians, increasing access to minority physicians and improving the ways patients can choose physicians may be potent options for reducing disparities."