Patients who fear being stereotyped by providers have worse health than others

We can add fear of being judged by clinicians to the list of patient stresses, concerns and factors that impact overall satisfaction. Nearly one in five patients lives with this concern, and a new study shows those who fear being stereotyped based on race, gender, social class, age or weight are generally in poorer health than those who don't.

Of 1,500 patients who were part of an American Academy of Family Physicians study, 17 percent reported having anxieties about being judged by providers. This group was also more likely to distrust physicians, express dissatisfaction with care and avoid preventive care, including vaccinations.

"It's time for us to implement policies that enhance medical school training in cultural competency and increase the diversity of our physicians and broader healthcare workforce," study author Cleopatra Abdou, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology, said in a statement. "Hospitals and other healthcare institutions with inclusive policies which welcome diversity and celebrate tolerance, both symbolically and explicitly, hold great promise for reducing healthcare stereotype threat and the short- and long-term health disparities that we are now learning result from it."

Additionally, the researchers reported finding patients worried about stereotyping felt public health campaigns aimed at helping specific groups, such as those geared toward the sexual health of the LGBT community or memory problems in seniors, reinforced negative stereotypes.

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