Association of stereotypes about physicians to health care satisfaction, help-seeking behavior, and adherence to treatment

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Mar;58(6):1049-58. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(03)00277-6.


The present research consists of three studies examining the role of patients' stereotypes about health care providers in the health care decision process. Study 1 examined the association of stereotypes to health care satisfaction and help-seeking behavior among a low-income clinic sample; Study 2 examined the relationship of stereotypes to satisfaction and adherence to treatment among low-income individuals living with HIV; and Study 3 examined the association of stereotypes to satisfaction and help-seeking among a sample of homeless individuals. Overall findings indicate that individuals who held more negative stereotypes about physicians sought care less often when sick, were less satisfied with the care that they did obtain, and were less likely to adhere to physician recommendations for treatment. Moreover, African Americans, but not Whites, with more positive stereotypes reported better adherence in Study 2 and were more satisfied with their health care in Study 3. Our findings point to the need to better understand the role of patients' beliefs about health care in predicting health care satisfaction and health behaviors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Homeless Persons / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwestern United States
  • Ohio
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Compliance / ethnology
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Satisfaction / ethnology
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician's Role
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Poverty
  • Stereotyping*
  • West Virginia
  • Whites / psychology


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents