Finding Common Ground: Can Provider-Patient Race Concordance and Self-disclosure Bolster Patient Trust, Perceptions, and Intentions?

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2019 Oct;6(5):962-972. doi: 10.1007/s40615-019-00597-6. Epub 2019 May 22.


Background: Improvements in provider-patient relationships may help alleviate health disparities. Provider-patient race concordance and provider self-disclosure are variables that may help improve this relationship.

Purpose: This study sought to answer if provider-patient race concordance and provider self-disclosure may improve patient trust, rapport, similarity, likeability, intention to disclose, satisfaction, behavioral intention to keep a provider, and intention to recommend a provider, while using empathy as a covariate.

Methods: Using 882 White or Black participants, the current research used a 2 × 2 online experimental design. Participants were asked to read a vignette in which they were told they had borderline high cholesterol and needed to eat a healthier diet, by either a Black or White male physician, who either self-disclosed or did not self-disclose regarding their own struggle to eat a healthy diet. After reading this vignette, participants were surveyed regarding the dependent variables of interest.

Results: Participants in a Black concordant dyad reported higher levels of similarity than those in any other dyad. Provider self-disclosure led to higher levels of trust, rapport, similarity, likeability, intention to disclose, satisfaction, behavioral intention to continue using the provider, and intention to recommend the provider. No interaction effects were found.

Conclusion: While it is possible, based on past research, that race-concordant pairings may lead to trust via similarity, provider self-disclosure directly increased perceptions of trust as well as providing numerous other benefits. This study supports the importance of trainings for providers on health-related self-disclosure to benefit both parties in provider-patient dyads.

Keywords: Provider-patient communication; Race concordance; Self-disclosure; Trust.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Disclosure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Trust / psychology
  • White People / psychology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult