Racial and ethnic disparities in the use of health services
- Cite this article as:
- Ashton, C.M., Haidet, P., Paterniti, D.A. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2003) 18: 146. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.2003.20532.x
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African Americans and Latinos use services that require a doctor’s order at lower rates than do whites. Racial bias and patient preferences contribute to disparities, but their effects appear small. Communication during the medical interaction plays a central role in decision making about subsequent interventions and health behaviors. Research has shown that doctors have poorer communication with minority patients than with others, but problems in doctor-patient communication have received little attention as a potential cause, a remediable one, of health disparities. We evaluate the evidence that poor communication is a cause of disparities and propose some remedies drawn from the communication sciences.