[Skip to Navigation]
March 26, 1973

Does Race Interfere With the Doctor-Patient Relationship?

Author Affiliations

Medical School Los Angeles

JAMA. 1973;223(13):1498-1499. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220130044013

Much has been written about the doctor-patient relationship and its many challenges and ramifications.1 However, almost nothing is written about the effects of race on this relationship. This is unfortunate, since we live in an era of increasing concern for community medicine and for improving the delivery of medical care to all people. In discussing the effects of race on the doctor-patient relationship, our aim must not be merely to accuse or to place blame but to analyze critically the problem, with the goal of improving medical care delivery. Our silence on this issue tends to deny that we see racism as a major barrier to good medical care for many people in our society.

We live in a racist society, and all around us the forces of racism help to determine the course of our lives and the nature of our relationship.2 Unfortunately, racism knows no geographic