Racial and ethnic disparities in the use of health services: bias, preferences, or poor communication? Academic Article uri icon


  • African Americans and Latinos use services that require a doctor's order at lower rates than do whites. Racial bias and patient preferences contribute to disparities, but their effects appear small. Communication during the medical interaction plays a central role in decision making about subsequent interventions and health behaviors. Research has shown that doctors have poorer communication with minority patients than with others, but problems in doctor-patient communication have received little attention as a potential cause, a remediable one, of health disparities. We evaluate the evidence that poor communication is a cause of disparities and propose some remedies drawn from the communication sciences.

published proceedings

  • J Gen Intern Med

altmetric score

  • 26.9

author list (cited authors)

  • Ashton, C. M., Haidet, P., Paterniti, D. A., Collins, T. C., Gordon, H. S., O'Malley, K., ... Street, R. L.

citation count

  • 390

complete list of authors

  • Ashton, Carol M||Haidet, Paul||Paterniti, Debora A||Collins, Tracie C||Gordon, Howard S||O'Malley, Kimberly||Petersen, Laura A||Sharf, Barbara F||Suarez-Almazor, Maria E||Wray, Nelda P||Street, Richard L

publication date

  • February 2003