Communication between African American patients and white health care providers has been shown to be of poorer quality when compared with race-concordant patient-provider communication. Fear on the part of patients that providers stereotype them negatively might be one cause of this poorer communication. This stereotype threat may be lessened by a values-affirmation intervention.
In a blinded experiment, we randomized 99 African American patients with hypertension to perform a values-affirmation exercise or a control exercise before a visit with their primary care provider. We compared patient-provider communication for the 2 groups using audio recordings of the visit analyzed with the Roter Interaction Analysis System. We also evaluated visit satisfaction, trust, stress, and mood after the visit by means of a questionnaire.
Patients in the intervention group requested and provided more information about their medical condition (mean [SE] number of utterances, 66.3 [6.8] in the values-affirmation group vs 48.1 [5.9] in the control group [P = .03]). Patient-provider communication in the intervention group was characterized as being more interested, friendly, responsive, interactive, and respectful (P = .02) and less depressed and distressed (P = .03). Patient questionnaires did not detect differences in visit satisfaction, trust, stress, or mood. Mean visit duration did not differ significantly between the groups (19.2 minutes in the control group vs 20.5 minutes in the intervention group [P = .29]).
A values-affirmation exercise improves aspects of patient-provider communication in race-discordant primary care visits. The clinical impact of the intervention must be defined before widespread implementation can be recommended.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01037920