Race Affects Structure of Medical Dialogue, Study Finds

Patient race affects the manner in which providers discuss medication adherence, according to a study published in the journal AIDS and Behavior.

Race has previously been linked to variations in healthcare processes and outcomes. In this particular study, researchers examined the physician-patient dialogue on medication adherence for HIV patients taking related drugs. The study analyzed interactions among 45 providers, 30 of whom were white and most of the rest of whom were of Asian descent, and 404 patients, 245 of whom were black and 59 of whom were Hispanic.

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Race spurred differences in speech patterns, volume of dialogue and number of provider directives.

Black patients spoke the least to their providers, so providers ended up dominating discussion. Black patients also exchanged fewer statements about values and goals than patients of other races. Providers asked Hispanic patients open-ended questions least often of all races.

Providers emphasized adherence behavior most with non-white patients. During these discussions with non-white patients, providers also offered directives more often than they discussed problem-solving strategies to combat counterproductive behaviors, such as nonadherence.

Researchers concluded more work is needed to understand how the influence of race on patient-provider dialogue affects clinical outcomes.

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