and ethnic minority psychologists treated more than twice the proportion of racial and ethnic minority patients than nonminority psychologists (24.0 percent vs. 11.7 percent, respectively), and those psychologists who utilized cognitive/behavioral theoretical orientations saw a larger percentage of minority patients than psychologists who used psychoanalytic or other theoretical orientations. These findings are especially important in light of consistent findings that racial and ethnic minority patients underutilize mental health services (U.S. Surgeon General, 2001).

Moy and Bartman (1995), in a nationwide survey of households, found that minority patients were more than four times more likely than white patients to receive health care from nonwhite physicians. Medically indigent patients were also between 1.4 and 2.6 times more likely to receive care from minority physicians than were more affluent patients. In addition, minority physicians tended to see patients who were sicker than the patients seen by their white peers. Minority physicians’ patients were more likely to report being in poor health, with more acute complaints, more chronic conditions, and greater functional limitations. These findings held true even after controlling for physician gender, specialization, workplace, and geographic location.

Relative to nonminority communities, minority neighborhoods tend to face shortages of physicians, yet physicians of color are disproportionately more likely to serve in these communities. Komaromy et al. (1996), in a survey of over 1,000 physicians in California, found that African American and Hispanic physicians were five and two times more likely, respectively, than their white peers to practice in communities with high proportions of African American and Hispanic residents. Over half of the patients seen by African American and Hispanic physicians, on average, were members of these clinicians’ racial or ethnic group. Hispanic and black physicians tended to practice in areas with fewer primary care physicians per capita, but even after adjustment for the proportion of minority residents in the communities studied, African American and Hispanic physicians were more likely to care for African American and Hispanic patients, respectively. Similarly, Cantor et al. (1996) found that minority and women physicians, as well as those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, were disproportionately more likely to serve minority, low-income, and Medicaid populations, even after adjustment for physician specialty, practice setting, and practice location.

Racial and ethnic minority dentists are also more likely than their white peers to practice in racial and ethnic minority communities. Solomon, Williams, and Sinkford (2001), in a study of African American and white dentists in Texas, found that a larger percentage of African American dentists practiced in communities with a high residential African American population than white dentists. African American dentists were also found



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement