Survey Reveals Black People Anticipate Racism At Doctor’s Office

Black women noted that they were even more likely to suffer from a negative interaction.

A new survey has revealed that African Americans expect racist encounters while at the doctor’s office. The survey revealed other discrepancies regarding discrimination toward people of color in the health care system.

The study was conducted by KFF in its 2023 Racism, Discrimination, and Health Survey to gain a deeper understanding of the relations between patients of varying backgrounds and their medical service providers. The survey garnered responses from almost 6,300 adult participants, which revealed that patients of color were more likely to note unfavorable experiences with their doctors during appointments.

“Things like a provider not listening to them, not answering a question or responding to a direct request, not prescribing pain medication that they thought they needed,” says KFF’s director of Racial Equity and Health Policy, Samantha Artiga. According to the findings, one in five of the Black surveyors reported unfair treatment or disrespect from a medical professional, with Black women noting that they were even more likely to suffer from a negative interaction. Nearly a quarter of all the Black participants shared that they had a racist interaction within the past three years.

Not only are they more likely to experience such encounters, but they also expect to. The survey also found that 60% of Black adults “prepare for possible insults” from the providers as well as medical staff. Due to this expectation, they revealed that they were likely to uphold a standard of appearance in an attempt to avoid this issue. The survey also noted the importance of having diverse medical providers to combat this issue, as surveyors with doctors of the same racial background reported having more positive experiences at their appointments.

Representation in the medical field is still an ongoing problem in itself, but patients of color are suffering the most from this systemic lack. Despite this, the survey noted that remedying this problem by growing the number of providers of color, in addition to resources and initiatives to combat bias in health care, is key for Black patients and others to receive the proper medical care.

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