Black Patients More Likely to Trust Medical Videos When Black Doctor, Patient Is in It

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Key Takeaways

  • Black patients are more likely to believe medical information presented by a Black doctor or patient than a white one, new research finds

  • The findings were based on responses to videos on prostate cancer. They suggest a need to diversify the health care workforce

  • The study also shows that, regardless of race, patients find doctors more trustworthy than other patients

THURSDAY, July 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- The need to increase racial diversity among U.S. health care providers is important for many reasons. Among them, Black patients are more likely to believe Black physicians or patients than sources who are white, new research finds.

The race of the presenter in videos about prostate cancer did not appear to make a difference to white patients, the study noted. But Black Americans were 1.6 times more likely to believe medical information presented by a Black physician or patient than a white one.

“Our findings demonstrate the need to increase diversity in the health care workforce,” said study lead author and urologist Dr. Stacy Loeb, a professor in the departments of urology and population health at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

Regardless of race, participants were more trusting of a physician discussing prostate cancer than of a patient explaining the same information.

“Our study emphasizes the responsibility of health care providers to play an active role in public communication, particularly in an environment flooded with misinformation and confusion,” said study co-author Dr. Joseph Ravenell. He is an associate professor in the departments of population health and medicine at NYU Langone Health.

“Clearly, people really do trust what doctors have to say,” Ravenell said in an NYU news release.

Prostate cancer kills more than 30,000 American men each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black men are more than twice as likely to die from the disease compared to other racial groups.

In an earlier study, this research team found that only a small percentage of online content about prostate cancer featured Black or Hispanic men. The new study, which included 2,900 people, was designed to show the impact of this underrepresentation on audiences.

The researchers randomly assigned U.S. adults aged 40 and older to watch one of eight videos about prostate cancer screening or clinical trials featuring a white or Black doctor or patient.

The participants were asked to rate how strongly they trusted the information presented in the video with the options of “no trust at all,” “a little,” “somewhat” or “very much.”

Participants were more trusting of videos about prostate cancer screening than about clinical trials. This could reflect a deep-seated distrust of clinical research that comes in part from a history of unethical practices before strict protections for human research participants began in the 1950s, the authors noted. Many Americans also have a generally low understanding about clinical trials.

The study team now plans to lead focus groups with Black patients with prostate cancer to talk about their experiences with online medical information. The team hopes to get suggestions for improving those resources.

Funding for the study was provided by a U.S. Department of Defense Health Disparity Research Award.

The study findings were published online July 19 in JAMA Network Open.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on prostate cancer.

SOURCE: NYU Langone Health/NYU Grossman School of Medicine, news release, July 19, 2023

What This Means For You

The ultimate aim of studies like this is to improve the quality and accessibility of medical information presented online.

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