Patient-physician relationships and racial disparities in the quality of health care

Am J Public Health. 2003 Oct;93(10):1713-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.10.1713.


Objectives: This study explored whether racial differences in patient-physician relationships contribute to disparities in the quality of health care.

Methods: We analyzed data from The Commonwealth Fund's 2001 Health Care Quality Survey to determine whether racial differences in patients' satisfaction with health care and use of basic health services were explained by differences in quality of patient-physician interactions, physicians' cultural sensitivity, or patient-physician racial concordance.

Results: Both satisfaction with and use of health services were lower for Hispanics and Asians than for Blacks and Whites. Racial differences in the quality of patient-physician interactions helped explain the observed disparities in satisfaction, but not in the use of health services.

Conclusions: Barriers in the patient-physician relationship contribute to racial disparities in the experience of health care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asian / psychology
  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Communication
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Ethnicity / classification
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology
  • Patient Satisfaction / ethnology
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • White People / psychology