Analysis of Consumer Reviews Uncovers Racism in Acute-Care Hospitals

A research team from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania analyzed consumer hospital reviews on Yelp and found that racism involves a wide array of clinical and nonclinical staff, affecting both patients and hospital employees.

The team collected 90,786 online consumer reviews of U.S. acute-care hospitals published on Yelp between 2010 to 2020 and used natural language processing to identify 260 reviews explicitly citing instances of racism in 190 hospitals across 33 states. Qualitative analysis revealed that racism occurred in a variety of clinical and nonclinical spaces.

Additionally, consumers experienced racism from a variety of actors, ranging from clinical staff, such as physicians and nurses, to other critical hospital personnel such as security officers and reception staff. The authors noted too that “racism can be bidirectional, affecting both patients and hospital employees.”

The authors note that “experiences of interpersonal racism are just one aspect of racism in health care, and future work is needed to couple the subjective measures of interpersonal racism with objective measures of structural racism to establish a hospital quality composite metric of racism.”

The study, “Evaluation of Online Consumer Reviews of Hospitals and Experiences of Racism Using Qualitative Methods,” was published on the JAMA Open Network. It may be accessed here.

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