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Health Team

Study: Black hypertension patients not getting enough out of doctor visits

Posted September 16, 2009 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated September 16, 2009 6:25 p.m. EDT

— Uncontrolled hypertension increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular diseases. Doctors can advise patients about how diet, exercise or even medication can help bring it under control.

A researcher at the University of North Carolina, however, has found that black patients with hypertension aren't getting enough out of their doctor visits.

Dr. Crystal Cene led a hypertension study analyzing audio recordings of 226 hypertension patients in their visits with 39 different doctors to see if there were racial differences in communication. She found that black patients had poorer communication with their doctors compared to white patients.

“One of the things is they need to talk more, really need to put their agendas out there and be willing to communicate more,” Cene said.

Cene said the communication needs to improve on both ends, with doctors developing a friendly relationship and asking specific questions. The information gained will help a doctor know if he or she needs to adjust a patient's medication or advise him or her of lifestyle changes.

Cene said some of the communication problems might be a cultural thing, with some patients having a long-standing mistrust of the medical establishment.

In general, black patients tended to talk less causing their doctor visits to be shorter than for white patients.