- 53% of Black Americans say it is hard to find a doctor of their racial background
- Those who say it is easy to find a Black doctor give higher patient experience ratings
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Unlike their White and Hispanic counterparts, a majority of Black adults in the U.S. (53%) say it is very difficult (18%) or somewhat difficult (35%) to find a doctor who shares their racial or ethnic background in the area where they live. In contrast, majorities of White and Hispanic adults say it is easy to find a medical provider who shares their background.
|Very easy||Somewhat easy||Somewhat difficult||Very difficult|
|June 17-July 9, 2021|
Some research has identified disparities in the care that Black patients receive from White providers versus the care they get from Black providers, while other findings suggest that greater representation in healthcare could lead to better outcomes in preventive care by creating greater trust and better communication between doctor and patient. Additionally, a meta-analysis of previous research studies has shown that Black patients tend to receive lower-quality communication from doctors than people of other races. The research found that Black patients have generally been more satisfied with the communication they receive from same-race doctors.
The findings from the Gallup Center on Black Voices survey, conducted June 17-July 9, 2021, highlight the potential scope of the problem of achieving equitable healthcare outcomes.
According to 2019 figures from the Association of American Medical Colleges, 5% of U.S. doctors are Black -- less than half the percentage of Black Americans who live in the country.
Black adults who find it easy to find a Black doctor are much more likely to report having positive interactions with their healthcare provider than those who find it hard to locate a Black physician. These findings underscore the healthcare disparities that can arise from racial discordance between patient and doctor.
Among those who say it is easy to find a local Black doctor, roughly two in three give positive ratings on most key healthcare experience measures, whereas smaller majorities among those who find it hard give similarly positive ratings on most measures. Both groups give their lowest ratings on communication about side effects of medicines or treatments -- and among those who find it hard to find a Black doctor, less than half rate positively on this measure.
to find a Black doctor
to find a Black doctor
|Healthcare providers provide the preventative care I need to stay healthy.||69||53|
|Healthcare providers listen carefully to my concerns about medicines or treatments.||65||52|
|Healthcare providers provide me with the education and services I need to effectively manage my health.||65||52|
|I am satisfied with the amount of time healthcare providers spend with me during visits.||64||52|
|Healthcare providers explain things in a way I can understand.||72||62|
|Healthcare providers describe possible side effects of medicines or treatments.||51||42|
|I trust healthcare providers to make good decisions about my health.||64||55|
|Healthcare providers tell me what medicines or treatments are for before prescribing them.||68||61|
|June 17-July 9, 2021|
Double-digit margins exist between Black adults who say it is easy to find a local Black doctor and those who say it is hard on the following measures:
- Healthcare providers provide the preventative care I need to stay healthy.
- Healthcare providers listen carefully to my concerns about medicines or treatments.
- Healthcare providers provide me with the education and services I need to effectively manage my health.
- I am satisfied with the amount of time healthcare providers spend with me during visits.
- Healthcare providers explain things in a way I can understand.
There are smaller differences between the "easy" and "difficult" groups with respect to healthcare providers describing possible side effects of medicines or treatments, trusting healthcare providers to make good decisions about their health, and providers telling them what medicines or treatments are for before prescribing them.
While the study did not measure the actual race of respondents' doctors, a higher proportion of those who say finding a Black doctor is easy will likely have at least one Black doctor they can visit compared with those who say finding them is hard. At a minimum, the measure indicates whether respondents believe they have that choice, should the race of their doctor be important to them.
Like Black adults, White and Hispanic adults are more positive in their patient experience ratings when they also report that it is easy to find a local doctor of their race/ethnicity. However, majorities of White and Hispanic adults report some degree of ease in locating a doctor of their race, whereas a majority of Black adults report some degree of difficulty.
While Black Americans who find it difficult to find Black doctors to care for them still report generally positive health outcomes, those who can more easily access Black doctors are even more positive.
When looking at the impact of representation in totality, there are clearly positive outcomes that can be gained from local representation in the field -- that is, merely having the ability to find a doctor of one's own race.
While most Americans can find a doctor in their area who shares their racial or ethnic background with relative ease, this isn't the case for over half of Black Americans -- and the benefits for those who find it easy are clear. Much like in the workplace, increased representation in healthcare settings could lead to more positive outcomes for Black patients.
Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.
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