Lack of patient trust or effective physician communication skills may be contributing to disparities in the uptake of postmastectomy breast reconstruction and other elective procedures, researchers suggest.
Dr. Elham Mahmoudi of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Reuters Health, “Research has shown that breast reconstruction offers many psychological benefits for (breast cancer) patients.”
“Yet, despite mandatory coverage of postmastectomy breast reconstruction by health insurance, there are large and widening racial and ethnic disparities, with white women having a higher rate than women from other racial and ethnic groups,” she said.
Dr. Mahmoudi said, “Physician-patient communication is an important modifiable factor in achieving more equitable care; it is particularly important for subspecialty surgical procedures, in which patients might be less knowledgeable about their potential options.”
However, more research is needed, she observed, to address issues such as the quality of the conversation and the amount of time spent with the patient.
“Lack of effectiveness of the law in reducing the white/African-American disparity in immediate postmastectomy breast reconstruction might be explained by the historical distrust among African-Americans towards the medical system,” she suggested.