Being black and going to a hospital could cause you to receive a cold shoulder, according to a new study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
The study enlisted the help of black actors who portrayed patients in severe medical crisis and those patients received less compassionate care from real doctors than white people.
“Although we found that physicians said the same things to their black and white patients, communication is not just the spoken word,” wrote Dr. Amber E. Barnato, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the study’s senior author. “It also involves nonverbal cues, such as eye contact, body positioning and touch.”
Although the people used were actors, the doctors had no clue, but knew they were being involved in a study, but didn’t know what type of study it was.
When interacting with whites — explaining their health condition and what the next steps might be — the doctors in the simulations tended to stand close to the bedside and were more likely to touch the person in a sympathetic way.
With blacks, the doctors were more likely to remain standing at the door of the hospital room and to use their hands to hold a binder — a posture that could make them appear defensive or disengaged.
The researchers analyzed audio and video recordings of the interactions and gave each doctor a score for his or her nonverbal behavior. On average, the doctors scored 7 percent lower for their interactions with blacks than for their interactions with whites.
Just recently a black woman was forced from a Florida hospital by police officers when she demanded to receive further treatment. After she was forced from the hospital, she died. One has to wonder what type of treatment she received from the doctors at the hospital.