More minority doctors might help, the researchers say. Credit: Metro File
JAMA Internal Medicine reports in its Dec. 30 issue that black, hispanic and Asian doctors handle more disadvantaged patients nationwide than their white counterparts. They define "disadvantaged" patients as those who have low incomes, are of racial and ethnic minorities, have Medicaid or don't speak English.
The report found that black, hispanic and Asian patients were 19-26 times more likely to be taken care of by a minority physician with the same background. Other relevant stats mentioned that low-income patients were 1.5-2 times more likely to be cared for by a minority doctor, and Medicaid patients 2-nearly 4 times more likely.
Black and Hispanic doctors make up less than 15 percent of physicians. “Patients from disadvantaged groups have substantial problems accessing care,” says lead author, Dr. Lyndonna Marrast, a physician at Cambridge Health Alliance. “The fact that minority physicians are much more likely to care for disadvantaged patients suggests that expanding the racial diversity of the physician workforce in the U.S. could be key to improving access to care.”