MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Adil H. Haider, MD, MPH
Kessler Director for the Center for Surgery and Public Health
Brigham and Women’s Hospital Harvard Medical School,
and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Deputy Editor of JAMA Surgery
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Haider: Racial/Ethnic disparities have been identified in multiple surgical fields. They are thought to be caused by a complex interplay of patient-, provider-, and systems-level factors. As healthcare professionals, providers play a key role in the care and outcomes that patients experience. However, despite published research about the existence of disparities, it remains unknown the extent to which surgeons perceive that racial/ethnic disparities exist.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Haider: In a pilot study designed to assess the extent to which US surgeons report awareness of racial/ethnic disparities, only 36.6% agreed that racial/ethnic disparities exist in healthcare. Even fewer, 11.6% acknowledged that disparities were present in their hospital or clinic, and a mere 4.7% reported disparities in their personal practice.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Haider: Fewer than expected surgeons acknowledged the presence of disparities. Among practicing members of the American College of Surgeons, only 1-in-3 respondents acknowledged that surgical disparities exist. Less than one-half claimed to work at institutions that are doing anything about it and only one-fourth had taken efforts to investigate disparities within their personal practice.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Haider: Given the importance of the provider’s role, there is a need to understand why surgeons are acknowledging disparities within healthcare at a rate that is considerably lower than that reported among the general population of the US (46-59%). As providers and researchers, we must all acknowledge the presence of disparities and work to create meaningful policy and programs that address them. Possible approaches include promoting cultural competency among providers and establishing more equitable access to high-quality care for patients.
Britton BV, Nagarajan N, Zogg CK, et al. US Surgeons’ Perceptions of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Care : A Cross-sectional Study. JAMA Surg. Published online January 27, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.4901.
Adil H. Haider (2016). Only 1 in 3 Surgeons Perceive Racial Disparities in Health Care