Yesha Callahan

Hospital’ing While Black: New Study Shows Black People Receive Cold Shoulders From Doctors

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 11.24.44 AMBeing black and going to a hospital could cause you to receive a cold shoulder, according to a new study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

The study enlisted the help of black actors who portrayed patients in severe medical crisis and those patients received less compassionate care from real doctors than white people.

“Although we found that physicians said the same things to their black and white patients, communication is not just the spoken word,” wrote Dr. Amber E. Barnato, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the study’s senior author. “It also involves nonverbal cues, such as eye contact, body positioning and touch.”

Although the people used were actors, the doctors had no clue, but knew they were being involved in a study, but didn’t know what type of study it was.

From the Huffington Post:

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.

Just recently a black woman was forced from a Florida hospital by police officers when she demanded to receive further treatment. After she was forced from the hospital, she died. One has to wonder what type of treatment she received from the doctors at the hospital.

  1. January 12, 2016 - Reply

    not surprised, i often felt that blacks don’t receive the care & compassion that whites do, unless you’re a wealthy black, then of course you’d receive the best care that $$ could buy.

    • January 30, 2016 - Reply


      You cannot necessarily see wealth. I have been in the emergency room, and had health insurance and had hospital staff treat me poorly and keep telling me to go somewhere else where they would see someone without insurance, such as myself. Although, I repeatedly told them I had insurance. I think you can replace wealthy with recognizable. I think a famous black person who is recognized might receive better care. But if they are not recognized they would be treated the same as the rest of us. As recent stories with Oprah, Al Roker, Forrest Whitaker, etc. have proven.

      • January 30, 2016 - Reply

        @Mariposa Sedosa

        sometimes you gotta go off on them, raise cane up in there & let them know you mean business, and that you have health insurance & for them to shape up and do what they are supposed to do, i bet they’ll get it together then.

  2. January 12, 2016 - Reply

    It’s a study that once again confirms our views. Many people have biases against black people and these biases or discriminatory actions cause harm to many black people (not only in America, but throughout the world). If we want to get into the Promised Land, then we have to not only confront classism and economic exploitation. We have to fight racism and discrimination too. I believe in universal health care. It has worked in many industrialized nations. Where I’m from (in America), we are still fighting for universal health care after long years and decades. Corporate interests dominate the health care industry financially and this is why people desire a change from the status quo. We are still fighting for the day in America where every American has affordable, quality health care regardless of sex, color, creed, or nationality. We want to see the day where people don’t have to sell their homes because they want to afford health care. We want health care available for all.

  3. January 12, 2016 - Reply

    I know it happens but as an adult I’ve never really experienced that.I’ve had doctors not take what I’m saying seriously or just brush it off but they do that too a lot of people.I think that’s very sad in this day and age.Doctors should treat everyone the same.

  4. January 13, 2016 - Reply

    My sister and her husband are doctors she’s black and he’s white they told me about other studies that show blacks get inferior treatment. the truth is well documented in their community that blacks are perceived as feeling less pain, as over exaggerating pain and that these perceptions lead them to having inferior care. The study doesn’t surprise me, sad thing is that the only people listening are those who are getting the inferior care ( people that look like me).

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