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Doctors listen to patient preferences…if they are white


Study finds doctors more likely to listen to patient preferences if they are white and make at least $75,000 a year

A study funded by the SCAN Foundation found that while 72.6% of U.S. adults aged 50 and older feel their care preferences were always or usually considered by health care providers, but stark racial, economic, and geographic inequities remain.

Doctor and patient: ©Goodluz - stock.adobe.com

Doctor and patient: ©Goodluz - stock.adobe.com

Examples of care preferences include what medications and treatments a person prefers, the care facility where they receive care, or trust in their clinicians’ experience or care demeanor.

According to the study, Hispanic (51.8%) and Black adults (61.8%) were less likely than white adults (83%) to report having their care preferences always or usually considered by clinicians.

“Ensuring personalized care as individuals age is vital for attaining quality outcomes and ensuring the utmost patient satisfaction,” said Sarita A. Mohanty, MD, MPH, MBA, president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation, in a statement. “Racial and ethnic disparities in how individuals perceive their care preferences being considered is deeply alarming and unacceptable. When preferences are not asked and respected, suboptimal care results.”

The study also found that a patient’s income also matters. Adults aged 50+ with household incomes less than $30,000 were less likely to say their care preferences were “always” or “usually” considered (66.1%) compared to those with incomes above $75,000 (85.1%).

Patients from the same age bracket located in the South were also less likely to report their care preferences were always or usually followed (71.9%), compared to those in the Northeast (76.4%), West (76.5%), and Midwest (80.2%), according to the report.

Primary care physicians were more likely to listen to their patients’ preferences, with respondents with a primary care doctor reporting an increase in their care preferences being usually or always considered (77.1%).

“Numerous studies have shown that care that aligns with patient preferences is more effective,” said Marc Cohen, PhD, co-director of The LeadingAge LTSS Center at UMass Boston and research director at Community Catalyst that conducted the study, in a statement. “The health care system has a lot of work to do to address deep-seated inequities in how it listens and responds to patients of color.”

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