MAY 24, 2022
Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Oculoplastics/Orbit
Using survey responses to evaluate how being a member of a racial/ethnic minority is linked to feelings of being treated with respect by medical providers, ophthalmologists can address ongoing disparities in vision care and eye health.
This cross-sectional analysis of the US-based 2017 National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative survey, reviewed the race and ethnicity of participants who self-reported as having an eye disease (macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy). Multivariable statistics were used on self-reported outcomes of being treated with respect by clinicians and of being asked about medical beliefs/opinions.
Of the 5343 participants with eye diseases, 21% reported having minority (non-Hispanic White) ethnicity. Minority-group participants were 23% less likely to report being treated with respect than non-Hispanic whites; they were also less likely to be asked about medical beliefs/opinions. Older age (>65 years) and being asked about medical belief/opinions were more likely to be associated with being treated with respect.
Survey studies are limited by their self-reported nature. There is a selection bias in those who choose to answer the survey, and there is a recall bias in reporting answers. The survey also asked about clinicians in general, but not about ophthalmologists specifically.
Patients who perceive they are being treated with respect by their clinician and are asked about their opinions/beliefs are more likely to report improved quality of life and feelings of being respected as a person. Understanding how clinicians are currently interacting with patients can help ophthalmologists improve patient care and address healthcare disparities.