Why some patients seek physicians of their own race, gender or sexual orientation

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Some Americans seek out physicians who have the same gender, sexual orientation or race or ethnicity to help improve their healthcare experience and eliminate potential care biases, The Washington Post reported Dec. 11.

Research has shown that patients have better outcomes when treated by a physician who speaks the same language. However, findings are less conclusive on whether patients receive better care with a physician who looks like them. 

Patients shared various reasons with the Post about why they've sought physicians similar to them, all of which surrounded their own comfort at healthcare visits and the desire for a positive care experience. For example, San Francisco resident Kevin Goebel said he prefers to see a gay physician who knows how to ask health questions in a nonjudmental way.

"In theory, any doctor could do that, but in practice, I haven't experienced that as a patient until I got a gay doc," he told the Post. "[My doctor] understands things like the gay bar culture and that makes it easier to be candid and open."

Raymond Givens, MD, PhD, a Black cardiologist at Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare, said he does not endorse "medical segregation," but said there is value in diversifying the physician workforce to include more people of color. 

"I do know that some Black patients relax when they see my face. I think they know they don't have to prove their humanity," Dr. Givens wrote in a recent Twitter post about the topic. 

View the full article here.

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