Blacks express more concerns about telemedicine than Hispanics

Research Activities, February 2010, No. 354

Experts have touted telemedicine as a way to compensate for physician shortages and overcrowded health care facilities in inner-city areas. A new study finds that inner-city blacks and Hispanics view the benefits of the technology similarly, but blacks tend to be more wary of telemedicine. Richard Baker, M.D., at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, and colleagues showed a video of a telemedicine encounter to five focus groups with 43 black participants and five groups with 44 Hispanics in South Central Los Angeles.

Both blacks and Hispanics agreed that telemedicine reduced waiting times, was convenient for children and seniors, provided instant feedback, and gave better access to specialists and multiple medical opinions. Hispanics also said that because it uses computers, the technology afforded more accurate diagnoses and helped prevent any awkwardness surrounding patients' income levels.

On the other hand, blacks were not as comfortable as Hispanics with a doctor not being physically present. Further, blacks expressed concern about their ability to check a doctor's qualifications and with the telemedicine equipment's ability to protect privacy and confidentiality. These findings indicate the need for tailoring introductions to telemedicine when it is offered to different inner-city groups, the authors suggest. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS14022).

See "Pre-experience perceptions about telemedicine among African Americans and Latinos in South Central Los Angeles," by Sheba M. George, Ph.D., Alison Hamilton, Ph.D., and Dr. Baker in the July/August 2009 Telemedicine and e-Health 15(6), pp. 1-6.

Current as of February 2010
Internet Citation: Blacks express more concerns about telemedicine than Hispanics: Research Activities, February 2010, No. 354. February 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.