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October 19, 1994

Ethnicity and Estimates of Pain by Physicians

Author Affiliations

University of Michigan Medical Center Ann Arbor

JAMA. 1994;272(15):1168-1169. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520150034025

To the Editor.  —After reading the title of the recent article by Dr Todd and colleagues,1 I immediately wondered: the ethnicity of whom? The authors nicely address issues relating to the ethnicity of the patients. However, the ethnicity of the physicians is discussed only under the possibility of straightforward bias and is dismissed with the statement that "neither pain assessment nor use of analgesics seems to be related to the ethnicity of the physicians themselves." Thus, Todd et al address only half of the very important interaction between patient and physician.When a patient and a physician meet, each comes to the encounter with his or her own set of cultural assumptions that in many ways reflect ethnicity. Those assumptions may fall well short of the kind of "straightforward racial bias" that Todd et al claim, perhaps appropriately, does not exist. It would be interesting to see a discussion

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