Report Reveals Half of American Health Care Workers Have Observed Racism Towards Patients

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund and the African American Research Collaborative has found that nearly half of health care workers in the United States have witnessed racism against patients, and the majority believe that racism is a major problem in the medical field today.

The research was conducted by interviewing six focus groups and surveying 3,000 health care workers about their experiences with racism in the health care industry. The respondents came from a variety of different backgrounds and health care professions, including doctors, nurses, dentists, mental health workers, administrators, and more.

The results found that 52 percent of all respondents believe racism against patients is a major problem in the United States. Groups such as Black and Latino workers, people under 40, mental health care professionals, and community-based workers were more likely to hold this opinion than other respondents. The findings also revealed that 47 percent of respondents have personally witnessed racism against patients. Of employees who worked at majority-Black organizations, 70 percent responded that they have witnessed racism towards patients.

Additionally, the study found that the presence of racism in the health care industry has a negative effect on the well-being of health care workers. Nearly half of all respondents, and two-thirds of Black respondents, said they experience at least some stress because of discrimination in the health care field.

“Health system leaders and policymakers have the responsibility to create safer and more equitable care settings for patients and the people caring for them,” reads the report. To do this, the authors urge health care leaders to implement practices such as establishing systems for anonymously reporting racism, requiring classes and training on identifying discrimination in the workplace, and conducting thorough reviews of their current policies and practices.

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