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Improving Diversity in the Medical Community Key to Increasing Trust Among Black Patients

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August 31, 2020

Patients want to see a doctor who looks like them

  • Minority patients may be more likely to follow advice if their physician has the same racial and ethnic background
  • Build trust by increasing diversity within the physician workforce
  • Increase the number of Black and Hispanic patients enrolled in clinical trials
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Patients want to see diversity when they visit a medical practice. “They want to see people who look like them,” says colon and rectal surgeon, Dr. Heather Yeo, of Weill Cornell Medicine. Having a doctor with the same racial background builds trust, and makes patients more likely to comply with medical advice, follow through with recommended screenings, and take their prescribed medications, several studies have found.

The problem is, most doctors don’t look like their minority patients. Though Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, they represent only 4% of doctors and 7% of medical students. The fact that the number of Black men is lower than it was 30 years ago is “absolutely unacceptable,” says Dr. Yeo.

The way the health care industry can build trust is by not only supporting increased diversity within the physician workforce by training minority physicians, but also by including more Black and Hispanic people in clinical trials.