Race/ethnicity and workplace discrimination: Results of a national survey of physicians

Marcella Nunez-Smith, Nanlesta Pilgrim, Matthew Wynia, Mayur M. Desai, Beth A. Jones, Cedric Bright, Harlan M. Krumholz, Elizabeth H. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Promoting racial/ethnic diversity within the physician workforce is a national priority. However, the extent of racial/ethnic discrimination reported by physicians from diverse backgrounds in today's health-care workplace is unknown. Objective: To determine the prevalence of physician experiences of perceived racial/ethnic discrimination at work and to explore physician views about race and discussions regarding race/ethnicity in the workplace. Design: Cross-sectional, national survey conducted in 2006-2007. Participants: Practicing physicians (total n=529) from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds in the United States. Measurements and main results: We examined physicians' experience of racial/ethnic discrimination over their career course, their experience of discrimination in their current work setting, and their views about race/ethnicity and discrimination at work. The proportion of physicians who reported that they had experienced racial/ethnic discrimination "sometimes, often, or very often" during their medical career was substantial among non-majority physicians (71% of black physicians, 45% of Asian physicians, 63% of "other" race physicians, and 27% of Hispanic/Latino(a) physicians, compared with 7% of white physicians, all p<0.05). Similarly, the proportion of non-majority physicians who reported that they experienced discrimination in their current work setting was substantial (59% of black, 39% of Asian, 35% of "other" race, 24% of Hispanic/Latino(a) physicians, and 21% of white physicians). Physician views about the role of race/ethnicity at work varied significantly by respondent race/ethnicity. Conclusions: Many non-majority physicians report experiencing racial/ethnic discrimination in the workplace. Opportunities exist for health-care organizations and diverse physicians to work together to improve the climate of perceived discrimination where they work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1198-1204
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Volume24
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009

Keywords

  • Discrimination
  • Health-care workers
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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