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, 29 (1), 1-8

A Comparison of Physicians' and Nurse Practitioners' Use of Race in Clinical Decision-Making


A Comparison of Physicians' and Nurse Practitioners' Use of Race in Clinical Decision-Making

Khadijah E Abdallah et al. Ethn Dis.


Objective: The debate over use of race as a proxy for genetic risk of disease continues, but little is known about how primary care providers (nurse practitioners and general internal medicine physicians) currently use race in their clinical practice. Our study investigates primary care providers' use of race in clinical practice.

Methods: Survey data from three cross-sectional parent studies were used. A total of 178 nurse practitioners (NPs) and 759 general internal medicine physicians were included. The outcome of interest was the Racial Attributes in Clinical Evaluation (RACE) scale, which measures explicit use of race in clinical decision-making. Predictor variables included the Genetic Variation Knowledge Assessment Index (GKAI), which measures the providers' knowledge of human genetic variation.

Results: In the final multivariable model, NPs had an average RACE score that was 1.60 points higher than the physicians' score (P=.03). The GKAI score was not significantly associated with the RACE outcome in the final model (P=.67).

Conclusions: Physicians had more knowledge of genetic variation and used patients' race less in the clinical decision-making process than NPs. We speculate that these differences may be related to differences in discipline-specific clinical training and approaches to clinical care. Further exploration of these differences is needed, including examination of physicians' and NPs' beliefs about race, how they use race in disease screening and treatment, and if the use of race is contributing to health care disparities.

Keywords: Clinical Decision-making; GKAI scale; Genomics; Health Care Disparities; Nurse Practitioners; Physicians; RACE scale; Race.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: None declared.

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