The relationship between the race/ethnicity of generalist physicians and their care for underserved populations

Am J Public Health. 1997 May;87(5):817-22. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.5.817.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine empirically the relationship between physicians' race or ethnicity and their care for medically underserved populations.

Methods: Generalist physicians who received the MD degree in 1983 or 1984 (n = 1581) were surveyed. The personal and background characteristics of four racial/ethnic groups of physicians were compared with the characteristics of their patients.

Results: When the potentially confounding variables of gender, childhood family income, childhood residence, and National Health Services Corps financial aid obligations were controlled, generalist physicians from underrepresented minorities were more likely than their nonminority counterparts to care for medically underserved populations.

Conclusions: Physicians from underrepresented minorities are more likely than others to care for medically underserved populations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Insurance, Health
  • Male
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Urban Population