Physician-patient racial concordance and disparities in birthing mortality for newborns

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Abstract

Recent work has emphasized the benefits of patient-physician concordance on clinical care outcomes for underrepresented minorities, arguing it can ameliorate outgroup biases, boost communication, and increase trust. We explore concordance in a setting where racial disparities are particularly severe: childbirth. In the United States, Black newborns die at three times the rate of White newborns. Results examining 1.8 million hospital births in the state of Florida between 1992 and 2015 suggest that newborn-physician racial concordance is associated with a significant improvement in mortality for Black infants. Results further suggest that these benefits manifest during more challenging births and in hospitals that deliver more Black babies. We find no significant improvement in maternal mortality when birthing mothers share race with their physician.

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Greenwood, B. N., Hardeman, R. R., Huang, L., & Sojourner, A. (2020). Physician-patient racial concordance and disparities in birthing mortality for newborns. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(35), 21194–21200. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1913405117

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