Race affects patient-doctor communication

Sept. 8, 2009 at 1:13 AM
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BALTIMORE, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Communication between doctors and patients with high blood pressure is worse for blacks than for whites, researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore say.

"This is an important finding because poorer communication is associated with worse patient satisfaction, adherence to therapy and blood pressure control, which in turn may lead to worse disease outcomes for black patients compared to white patients," Dr. Crystal Wiley Cene, now of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Cene led the study while completing a fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Study participants included 226 high blood pressure patients and 39 physicians from 15 primary care practices in Baltimore. Coders listened to recordings of patient visits and found black patients had shorter office visits, less biomedical and psychosocial exchange and less rapport-building with their doctors than white patients.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, says the differences were statistically significant for psychosocial exchange and rapport-building but not for biomedical exchange.

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