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Blacks' low trust of docs linked to communication

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Mar 17 (Reuters) A new study raises the concern that black patients with lung cancer have lower levels of trust in their physicians in part because of poorer perceived communication about their treatment.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Dr Howard S Gordon from the Michael E DeBakey VA Medical Centre in Houston noted that ''other investigators have found that blacks have lower trust in their doctor than white patients'' do, but the reason for this difference is poorly understood.

Gordon and his colleagues used a questionnaire to assess levels of trust of 103 lung cancer patients in their physician and the VA health system before and after care.

They found that pre-visit trust in their physician was statistically similar in black and white patients. ''Contrary to expectations, when compared with white patients, black patients did not have lower pre-visit trust in either the physician or the VA,'' the investigators report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

However, black patients did have significantly lower post-visit trust in their doctor than did white patients.

Compared with white patients, black patients perceived that physician communication was ''less supportive, less partnering, and less informative,'' Gordon and colleagues report.

''Black patients rated doctors worse overall on these three measures than white patients,'' said Gordon, ''and those worse ratings explained the differences in trust.'' The study shows that doctors who communicate better seem to have patients with higher levels of trust, he added.

The researchers also note in their study that post-visit trust in the VA was predicted by ''the degree to which the physician was perceived as caring, concerned, and interested in the patient's well-being.'' REUTERS AD RK0925

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