As we have discussed in other class sessions and reading, racism often occurs unintentionally potentiated by unconscious prejudice and stereotypes. To the extent that many people are unaware of their biases, there is little motivation for change.
As a healthcare provider, I have worked in predominately white owned practices privately and publicly and have found that not only do minorities and others marginalized groups receive among other treatments, substandard medical and nursing care, but that often time racism is the fuel motivating the delivery of such care. Often times patients of color are unable to effectively voice these sentiments due to stereotypes threats, and healthcare providers often becomes offended that they are in essences being accused of being a racist.
The current research article we are reading for class: Race, Race-Based Discrimination, and Health Outcomes among African Americans, the authors wrote: “persistent and vexing health disadvantages accrue to African American despite decades of work to erase the effects of racism.” They hypothesized that African Americans’ continuing experiences with racism and discrimination may lie at the root of many well documented race-based physical health disparities.
Since we understand from the readings that racism often occurs unintentionally, the discussion regarding disparities in healthcare delivery for African Americans and other minorities, place both patients and healthcare providers in defensive positions.
So I believe if there is an approach of openly acknowledging stereotypes and other ideologies that influence our behaviors and subsequent fueling of healthcare disparities, perhaps the sensitivities and defensiveness can be reduced improving Doctor-Patient relationship. I further think that open acknowledgement of these structures, will have several benefits. First this can help to enhance understanding of the psychological ills of bias and how negatively healthcare outcomes are impacted for all, not just some. Secondly, this will also help to reduce colorblind ideology /colorblind racism as I believe that suppressing conversation about stereotypes in healthcare can lead to many unintentional consequences such as social distance between patients and providers, and reduced quality of interaction during doctor’s visits. Last week we discussed Apfelbaum and Dovido’s articles that suggested that trying to not appear racist or functioning with colorblind ideology actually took so much effort and cognitive resources, that not only did whites appear racist after all, but that they were rendered ineffective during a particular task. The same is can be true for the effective delivery of healthcare. If a Doctors is preoccupied with colorblindness or stereotype suppression, he or she may render ineffective care in the end, which results in him or her being labeled a racist. Thirdly, open discussions can lead to reduction in external pressures to “appear” not racist and actually enhance internal motivation to reduce biases, based on the awareness of the need for equitable healthcare delivery. Fourth, open discussion can further serve to improve providers’ confidence in their ability to interact and treat African American and other marginalized groups. Just my thoughts, what do you think?