October 11, 2023

Patient perceptions of surgeon bias are influenced by race, gender

By: Brita Belli

Editor's Note

A new study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that Black patients are more likely to perceive bias from their surgeons compared to White patients. The study, titled "Patient preferences and perceptions of provider diversity in orthopedic surgery," was published on October 6.

The study is an analysis of a survey that included 349 patients seen at orthopedic clinics within the authors' health systems: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Of the respondents, about 80% were White, 18% were Black, and 3% were Hispanic.

Black patients were six times more likely to report difficulty relating to their surgeons and 14 times more likely to report perceived racial bias compared to White patients. Overall, patients perceived low levels of diversity within orthopedic surgery, and Black patients ranked race as a more important factor to consider when selecting a surgeon.

The study also found gender differences in how well patients related to their surgeons, with women about five times more likely to report difficulty, as well as differences in perception related to patient income and education. The report highlights the persistent problems with lack of diversity in orthopedic surgery.

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