Racism, discrimination widespread in healthcare: 5 new survey findings

Discrimination and racism against patients are widespread problems in healthcare, workers in the industry indicated in a report released Feb. 15. 

The report, from the Commonwealth Fund and the African American Research Collaborative, is based on a survey of 3,000 healthcare workers across various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient care such as urgent care centers, mental health and addiction treatment centers and community or school health centers. Participants were asked to share their perspectives into how discrimination affects healthcare staff and patients.

Five survey findings:

1. Fifty-two percent of healthcare workers said racism or discrimination based on race or ethnicity against patients is a crisis or major problem.

2. Nearly half of healthcare workers (47%) reported personally witnessing discrimination against a patient based on race or ethnicity.

3. Thirty-eight percent of healthcare workers reported witnessing a patient receiving lower quality of care because of their race or ethnicity.

4. Younger healthcare workers and healthcare workers of color were more likely than their older or white counterparts to report witnessing discrimination.

5. A majority of Black, Latino and Asian American and Pacific Islander healthcare workers said they worry about retaliation or negative consequences if they were to report racism or discrimination.

"Discrimination against patients based on race, ethnicity or language is a serious problem that impacts care delivery and workforce morale," the report concluded. 

"Health systems can take steps to facilitate reporting and tracking of discrimination, review treatment of non-English-speaking patients, measure equity in outcomes and experiences, and train workers to identify and respond to racism. Industry leaders and policymakers can pursue strategies to change health professionals' education and better listen to patients and healthcare workers of color."

Read more about the survey findings here

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