Minority Patients Who Perceive Discrimination by Health Care Providers Less Likely to Seek Cancer Screenings, Study Finds
Members of minority groups who perceive racial discrimination from their health care providers are less likely to be screened for breast or colon cancers, according to a recent study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, Reuters Health reports. For the study, researchers from Stanford University surveyed 11,245 black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American adults between ages 40 and 75. About 9% of the women and 6% of the men who responded to the survey said they had experienced some type of discrimination from their health care providers in the last five years.
According to the study, the women who perceived some form of discrimination from their physicians were about one-third less likely to have undergone a colorectal cancer screening and about half as likely to have had a mammogram. Among men, those who perceived discrimination were 70% less likely to have had a colorectal cancer screening. The researchers said there was no clear indication about what the physicians or other health care providers had done for the men and women to perceive discrimination.
In a statement released by the American Association for Cancer Research, lead researcher LaVera Crawley, an assistant professor at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, said, "The longer someone delays (cancer) screening the worse the outcome," adding, "Perception of discrimination may be driving the differences we see in outcomes among minorities." She added, "Clinicians need to be aware that they may be sending signals, even unintentionally, that lead minorities to believe they are being discriminated against" (Reuters Health, 8/14).
An abstract of the study is available online.