Posted April 25, 2006 – A new study confirms what many African Americans believed all along – that Blacks are a lot less likely than Whites to trust the health care system.
University of Pennsylvania researchers surveyed 432 Blacks and 522 whites and found that found Blacks "were significantly more likely than [W]hites to report low trust in health care providers."
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The survey found low levels of trust among nearly 45 percent of Blacks surveyed, compared with only 33.5 percent of Whites with similar levels of distrust. Trust is important, the researchers said in the survey just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, because it influences the degree to which patients follow doctors' orders.
The lowest level of trust among Blacks was found in those who sought care somewhere other than in a doctor's office, according to the survey, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Lack of insurance is in part to blame because it forces many Blacks to go to emergency rooms or clinics for basic health care needs, making it nearly impossible to build a rapport with doctors and nurses who treat them, according to the study.
"This suggests 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 says.
The survey’s findings were supported by other recent studies, such as one done by medical researchers in Washington, D.C., last July, which found that Blacks and Hispanics were less likely than Whites to receive care in outpatient settings.
The implication is that they had little access to preventive medicine and interventions – the majority of which take place in outpatient settings – that can reduce or prevent the complications of most major chronic diseases, which affect people of color more than Whites.
Other recent studies reveal that African Americans traditionally harbor mistrust of the healthcare system because of disparities in health care delivery, access and an intrinsic memory of the 1950s Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which medical experts left syphilis untreated in Black subjects.
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