In this issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, Wheeler et al1 report results from a novel qualitative study in which the investigators examined how physicians and trainees perceive, react, and respond to incidents of biased patient behavior. Study participants reported varied experiences with discriminatory patient behavior, ranging from mildly disparaging comments to openly racist, sexist, or homophobic stereotyping remarks and absolute refusals of care. They also described myriad reactions to these situations, including pain, fear, anger, and confusion. Barriers to appropriate responses included a lack of skills in confronting patients exhibiting biased behavior, lack of support from colleagues and guidance from the institution, and uncertainty about whether responding to these experiences would be perceived as unprofessional. This study provides insights into the gravity of the problem of discriminatory patient behavior, raises key unanswered questions, and calls for action from the medical profession.
Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.
Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.
Err on the side of full disclosure.
If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.
Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.
Cooper LA, Beach MC, Williams DR. Confronting Bias and Discrimination in Health Care—When Silence Is Not Golden. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(12):1686–1687. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.4100
Coronavirus Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: