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A study from the latest issue of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management points out that race may account for the disparity in the care that terminally patients receive at hospitals.

Researchers examined 33 doctors at hospitals in western Pennsylvania and compared their interactions with Black patients versus Whites. The patients and their family members weren’t real patients, but actors who spoke in matching scripts and showed the same vital signs. The doctors were told that they were part of a study, but they weren’t made aware of the nature of the study or the actors that were involved.

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The study concluded that doctors were more caring and attentive towards Whites:

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.

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This new study also explains that this difference in behavior may account for why Blacks are more likely to choose extreme live-saving treatments like hospice care than White patients. Hospice care is considered to be a notably painful, intensive and traumatic treatment that can have a long term impact on both patients and their loved ones.

The senior author of the story, Dr. Amber E. Barnato, urges doctors to be more self-aware and compassionate in their work, as their interactions with patients can have a direct effect on their patients’ health.

Read more on the study at the Huffington Post.

[SOURCE: Huffington Post]

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