White doctors might underestimate their black patients’ pain

U.S. doctors prescribe black people fewer painkillers than white people—and now The Washington Post reports one possible reason: misconceptions about the physical differences between different races. In a new study, half of all white doctors-in-training believed at least one made-up difference between black and white people. For example, 25% of polled medical residents—doctors training to practice a specialized type of medicine—believe that black skin is “thicker” than white skin, according to the study published yesterday in  the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And when asked about a scenario in which they had to prescribe painkillers, those with false beliefs were more likely to rate black patients’ pain as lower.  

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