The effect of a racially consonant medical context on adjustment of African-American patients to physical disability

Med Anthropol. 1994 Nov;16(1):1-16. doi: 10.1080/01459740.1994.9966106.


The effect of a racially consonant medical context on reaction to physical handicap stemming from disease is explored in a sample of 90 African-American patients with vitiligo, a disfiguring skin disorder. The adjustment of sixty-nine patients in a predominantly black hospital setting is compared to that of twenty-one patients in a predominantly white hospital setting. The patients in the predominantly black clinic, where the physicians, staff, and clientele are African-American, show significantly better adjustment than do African-American patients in a medical context that is primarily white. Interviews with a random sample of one-third of the patients in each clinic show that patients are significantly more positive to black physicians and a black hospital setting and that other patients of the same race provide informal networks of support, as does the predominantly African-American community in which the hospital is located. Implications for both medical theory and practice are suggested on the basis of these findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hospital-Patient Relations
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Prejudice*
  • Random Allocation
  • Sampling Studies
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitiligo / psychology