Health professionals' fear of being 'racist' undermines care

Health professionals contribute to ethnic inequalities in healthcare because of uncertainty and apprehension about how to interact with patients of different ethnicities from their own, UK research says.

Researchers from UK universities held focus groups with 108 health professionals and found many were anxious about appearing 'culturally inappropriate, causing affront or appearing discriminatory or racist' in consultations with patients from different ethnic groups.

In these situations, their ability to 'think and act flexibly faltered', the researchers found. Many had looked up and adopted standard 'knowledge-based' guides to consultations with people from particular cultural backgrounds.

But the researchers warned this could lead to stereotypical expectations of patients.

They concluded that healthcare should have a 'greater focus on each patient as an individual' rather than on their ethnicity.

View the research

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