Academic Study Finds Racial Differences in How Doctors Converse With HIV Patients

AIDSJourA new study led by researchers at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, finds that healthcare providers do not communicate in the same way with White and minority patients with HIV. Researchers recorded communications between 45 doctors and nurse practitioners and more than 400 HIV/AIDS patients.

The results showed that healthcare providers talked about strict adherence to a drug regimen with Black patients more so than they did with White patients, regardless of whether there had been a problem with sticking to the regimen. M. Barton Laws, assistant professor of health services policy and practice in the School of Public Health at Brown University and the lead author of the study, stated, “The possibility that seems most compelling to me is the doctors don’t trust their Black and Hispanic patients as much to be adherent.”

The results also showed that healthcare providers were more likely to provide directives to minority patients than to White patients. Black patients generally spoke less to their healthcare providers than did Whites and there was less humor in the discussions with Black patients.

“We’ve found there is something going on here,” said Dr. Laws. “And it would be good to understand it better.”

The study, “Provider-Patient Adherence Dialogue in HIV Care: Results of a Multisite Study,” was published on the website of the journal AIDS and Behavior. It may be accessed here.

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