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Patient preference for a racially or gender-concordant student dentist.

Authors
  • Bender, Daniel J
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of dental education
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2007
Volume
71
Issue
6
Pages
726–745
Identifiers
PMID: 17554091
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Disparities in health and health care due to race and ethnicity are a national problem. One commonly proposed method to address disparities is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the health professions to serve the needs of growing minority populations. This position is based in part on the racial concordance hypothesis, an untested assumption that minority patients prefer to be treated by providers of the same race as themselves. The purpose of this study was to test the racial concordance hypothesis. Gender preference of dental patients was also investigated. One hundred twenty male and female Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, and Asian dental patients over eighteen were recruited from the reception area of a private dental school clinic in Northern California. Participants were randomly assigned to a treatment condition that gave them a choice between two equally qualified fictitious dental students that varied on race and gender. Participants were initially blinded to the study's purpose to preserve the authenticity of the choice decision. Results showed that 58 percent of the participants had no preference for the race or gender of their student dentist, but that some black and Hispanic patients preferred a racially concordant student dentist and some female patients preferred a gender-concordant student dentist. Hispanic females were especially likely to prefer racial and gender concordance. The findings suggest that the racial concordance hypothesis may not apply to choosing a dentist and thus may not be as strong an argument to justify efforts to increase diversity in dental schools as previously thought.

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