PHILADELPHIA - Minority men and women who perceived discrimination from their health care providers were less likely to be screened for colorectal or breast cancer, according to a report in the August issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
"We have yet to achieve bias-free health care. This has serious public health implications as we know that higher levels of screening lead to lower levels of mortality. Clinicians need to be aware that they may be sending signals, even unintentionally, that lead minorities to believe they are being discriminated against," said LaVera M. Crawley, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor at the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics.
Exactly what those signals are will need to be determined in future studies, Crawley says, but the relationship between perceived discrimination and failing to get regular screenings is strong.
Crawley and colleagues analyzed data from the California Health Interview Survey, which examined cancer screening trends among African-American, American-Indian/Alaskan-Native, Asian and Latino adults. The data set included 11,245 respondents.
"Respondents answered yes or no to 'was there ever a time that you would have gotten better medical care if you had belonged to a different ethnic group?' However, we were not able to ask why they felt discriminated against," Crawley said.
If minority women perceived racial discrimination, they were 34 percent less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer and 48 percent less likely to be screened for breast cancer, compared with women of any racial group who did not perceive discrimination, researchers found.
The results were slightly different among minority men. Overall, men who perceived racial discrimination were no less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer than those who did not perceive discrimination.
|Contact: Jeremy Moore|
American Association for Cancer Research