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August 17, 2021

Race and the Patient-Physician Relationship in 2021

Author Affiliations
  • 1Satcher Health Leadership Institute, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
JAMA. 2021;326(7):595-596. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.12454

Although nearly 50 years have passed since the article entitled “Does Race Interfere With the Doctor-Patient Relationship?” was published in JAMA in 1973, the question is as relevant today as it was then.1,2 In some ways, many aspects of health care and society have changed, yet in other important ways they have not. There has been progress in stretching the umbrella of health care coverage, access, and quality for more people in the United States than at any other time in US history, and yet, medicine still struggles with how to advance health equity, quash racist beliefs and biases in the profession, and reform racist systems and structures that have created, perpetuated, and exacerbated the health inequities that continue and are experienced by many in US society. If ever there were a time to reexamine the patient-physician relationship thoughtfully and critically, it is today, as the national and global medical community strives to emerge on the other side of a global pandemic.

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