Patient and physician race and the allocation of time and patient engagement efforts to mental health discussions in primary care

Patricia K. Foo, Richard M. Frankel, Thomas G. McGuire, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Jennifer Elston Lafata, Ming Tai-Seale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


This study investigated racial differences in patient-physician communication around mental health versus biomedical issues. Data were collected from audiorecorded periodic health examinations of adults with mental health needs in the Detroit area (2007-2009). Patients and their primary care physicians conversed for twice as long, and physicians demonstrated greater empathy during mental health topics than during biomedical topics. This increase varied by patient and physician race. Patient race predicted physician empathy, but physician race predicted talk time. Interventions to improve mental health communication could be matched to specific populations based on the separate contributions of patient and physician race .

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-256
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Ambulatory Care Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Mental health
  • Physician-patient communication
  • Primary care
  • Race and ethnicity
  • health disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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