Background: Physician-patient communication behavior (PPCB) is the primary process by which medical decision-making occurs and health outcome depends. Physician-patient communication differences may partly from the ethnic disparities. To examine this problem, this study aims to explore whether physician-patient communication differs by ethnicity during primary care medical consultations.
Methods: The study was conducted among the Bengali and ethnic minority patients (N = 850) who visited a physician for medical consultations. Data were collected using a structured post-consultation questionnaire. T-test was conducted to compare the communication between the Bengali and ethnic minority patients. Multiple linear regression analyses were performed to identify the factors associated with favorable communication behavior from the physicians. Results: Bengali patients received more supportive communication behaviors from the Bengali doctors than that of ethnic minority patients including physicians’ cheerful greetings, encouraging patients to express health problems and asking questions, listening carefully, responding to questions and concerns, explaining to patients about medical examination procedures, medication, probable side effects, discussing treatment options, involved the patients in decisions, and spending adequate time. Results of linear regression showed that respondents’ level of education, internet use, knowledge about the health issue, having a pre-organized plan about the content of medical consultation, information seeking about the health problem, visiting female doctors, and a quiet ambience of the doctor’s room are significantly associated with a better PPCB score for the Bengali patients. In contrast, age, being the resident of an urban area, perception of affecting a minor health problem, having a pre-organized plan about the content of medical consultation, patients’ involvement in physicians’ decision-making about the treatment, and talking time resulted in better physician-patient communication for the ethnic minority patients.
Conclusion: This study suggests that reducing disparity in the socio-economic status of the ethnic minority groups through development programs and educating healthcare providers on how to use patient-centered communication skills to engage with their patients is one solution to improve equity in the delivery of healthcare and ensure than patients are receiving high-quality treatment, no matter their race or ethnicity.