To investigate health care disparities, M. Robin DiMatteo, PhD, and a team of researchers at the University of California-Riverside, examined links between patient vulnerability and physician–patient communication during primary care visits.
Dates of Project: April 2006 to September 2009
Description: Disparities in health status, treatment, and outcomes related to patients’ race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status persist in the United States. Some of these disparities may reflect the way health providers and vulnerable patients communicate, both verbally and nonverbally, during medical visits.
M. Robin DiMatteo, PhD, and her research team analyzed audiotapes of 2,197 primary care visits at a university medical center, a health maintenance organization, and a Veterans Administration clinic in southern California in the late 1990s. After each visit, physicians and patients completed detailed questionnaires. The research team also analyzed other studies of communication between providers and vulnerable patients. The researchers published their findings in articles and book chapters.
“Communication is not as good as it needs to be with all patients, but especially vulnerable ones.”—Robin DiMatteo, PhD, project director