Assessment of Black Patients' Perception of Their Dermatology Care

Kristina Gorbatenko-Roth, Neil Prose, Roopal V. Kundu, Stavonnie Patterson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Importance: The availability and quality of skin and hair care for black patients in the United States has been a subject of growing interest in dermatology. There is limited understanding of the perceptions of black patients about the care they receive from dermatologists and the factors affecting their care satisfaction. Objective: To elucidate black patients' perceptions of their dermatology experience in and outside of a skin of color clinic (SOCC). Design, Setting, and Participants: A cross-sectional study involving a survey and focus groups was conducted including adult black patients treated in an SOCC. Recruitment was conducted April through June 2015 through clinic-posted flyers. Participants engaged in 1 of 4 focus groups on July 14, 15, 29, or 30, 2015, and completed a survey. Data were analyzed March 2016 through June 2017. Main Outcomes and Measures: Planned outcomes of the focus groups were black patients' inductively generated themes on their perspectives and experiences in dermatology clinics. Planned outcomes of the survey were patients' ratings of SOCC and non-SOCC dermatologists in terms of interaction style, cultural awareness, and treatment satisfaction. Importance of patient-dermatologist racial concordance was a planned outcome in both measures. Given lack of existing prior research, no specific hypotheses were generated. Results: Of the 19 adult black patients who participated in the study, 18 (95%) were women, and the mean (SD) age was 50.0 (14.2) years. All patients reported positive experiences in the SOCC. Compared with non-SOCC dermatology treatment experiences, patients reported higher levels of overall satisfaction with SOCC dermatologists (t13 = 2.85; P =.01). Patients perceived that SOCC dermatologists were better trained to care for black patients (t13 = 4.42; P =.001); showed patients greater respect and dignity (t13 = 3.37; P =.005), as well as understanding (t13 = 2.56, P =.02); and were more trustworthy (t13 = 3.47; P =.004). The majority of the comments in the focus groups (n = 207) described 2 themes: dermatologists' interaction style (62/207; 30.0%) and knowledge about black skin and hair (42/207; 20.3%). Other themes were partnering with patients on outcomes (17/207; 8.2%), shared life experiences (14/207; 6.8%), and economic sensitivity (7/207; 3.4%). These themes accounted for a large part of the participants' discussion. Of all respondents, 71% (12/17) stated that they would prefer a black (or race concordant) dermatologist; this included 91% (10/11) of the race-concordant group and 33% (2/6) of the race-discordant group. Conclusions and Relevance: Participants reported that the SOCC dermatologists provided unique and uniformly beneficial care to black patients. Care satisfaction appeared most related to dermatologists' interpersonal style and specialized knowledge in care of black skin and hair. Findings suggest that black patients' dermatologic care satisfaction would increase if dermatologists underwent enhanced residency training in skin of color, cultural competency, cost-conscious care, and empathic communication skills, and if there were greater dermatology workforce diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1134
Number of pages6
JournalJAMA dermatology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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