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Racial Discrimination in Healthcare Leads to Patient Avoidance

Héctor E. Alcalá

Patients who perceive racial discrimination in healthcare are less likely to seek needed treatment, according to a study published in the October issue of The Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Héctor E. Alcalá
Héctor E. Alcalá

Working from a survey of more than 37,000 insured adults in California, researchers found that only 6 percent of that group experienced perceived racial or ethnic discrimination in healthcare — but  among those who did, delaying or forgoing their prescriptions or medical care was more common.

The survey results also reveal that adults with Medicare and Medicaid had a 66 percent higher likelihood of perceiving discrimination, relative to those with employer-sponsored health insurance coverage.

“This study of adults highlights an important area – possible discrimination – that both healthcare policymakers and healthcare providers need to pay better attention to and improve,” said co-author Héctor E. Alcalá, PhD, MPH, CPH, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine and the Program in Public Health at Stony Brook University.

 “Our findings also reinforce that healthcare providers must work toward equitable care for all. By not doing so people are then more likely to avoid healthcare services they need,” he emphasizes.

 

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