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Physicians Generally Respected, But Some Minorities Question If You Care

PHILADELPHIA – Physicians might want to work harder to convince minority group patients that they care about them but are generally admired for their honesty and ethical standards.

A new survey published in the journal Social Science Research reveals that the deepest mistrust of physicians comes from Latinos, followed by African-Americans.

"That's one of the biggest takeaways of this work," said lead author Abigail Sewell, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania. "African-Americans and Latinos are more likely to think this.”

She suggests that Latinos might have an even deeper mistrust because it is more likely that one or both parents are from somewhere else.

"It reflects the relationship between immigrants and the healthcare system," Sewell said. "Most people who are immigrants or have some immigrant connection feel more disenfranchised from the healthcare system.”

The survey cohort consisted of 2,800 people 18 and older in the contiguous United States who were not institutionalized. Interviewers went door to door asking for volunteers, and about 70% of people agreed to the hour-and-a-half interview.

"What we have are perceptual data: what patients feel when they go to a doctor. Minorities in general don't have a lot of faith that they're receiving the best care they could," Sewell said. "Number two, and I think more important, the fact that they think their doctors don't care means they feel their doctors aren't taking into consideration their personal lives."

On the other hand, physicians ranked third among all professions in Gallup’s 2015 Honesty and Ethics of Professions Ratings. Nurses were at the top of the list, followed by pharmacists.

Medical doctors’ honesty and ethical standards were rated high or very high by 67% of respondents, with only 5% rating them low or very low.

“Members of Congress, lobbyists and telemarketers have shown no improvement at the bottom of the list, while nurses, pharmacists, medical doctors and high school teachers remain untarnished at the top,” according to the Gallup analysis.

The Gallup poll is based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 2-6, 2015, with a random sample of 824 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.