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African-American patients are less likely than white patients to say they trust nurses, physicians, and other health care providers, according to a new study. In a national survey of 954 African-American and white patients, researchers analyzed the association between patients' trust in health care providers and various patient characteristics, such as prior health care experiences, sex, and sociodemographic factors.


Among 432 African-American patients in the survey, 45% had little trust in health care providers, compared with 34% of the 522 white patients. African-Americans who didn't usually get health care from a physician's office were more likely to report feeling distrustful.


The number of prior positive interactions with health care providers was the most important factor in the level of trust for patients in both groups. Researchers concluded that better communication between patients and providers is crucial to building trusting relationships.


Data were obtained from the Kaiser Family Foundation Survey of Race, Ethnicity, and Medical Care, which posed 46 questions probing patients' trust in health care providers.


Source: Racial differences in trust in health care providers, Archives of Internal Medicine, C Hughes-Halbert, et al., April 24, 2006.