Study Examines Minority Physicians’ Role in Care of Underserved Patients


Media Advisory: To contact author Lyndonna M. Marrast, M.D., call David Cecere at 617-591-4044 or email


JAMA Internal Medicine Study Highlight


Nonwhite physicians cared for 53.5 percent of minority patients and 70.4 percent of non-English speaking patients in an analysis of medical providers and their role in the care of underserved patients, according to a research letter by Lyndonna M. Marrast, M.D., of the Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues.


Researchers analyzed data from 7,070 adults in the 2010 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey who identified a medical provider. The researchers estimated the likelihood of having a nonwhite physician for patients who were racial and ethnic minorities or low-income, had Medicaid, were uninsured and who lived in a home where English was not spoken.


Study results indicate that patients from underserved groups (except uninsured patients) were more likely to see nonwhite physicians. Patients of black, Hispanic and Asian physicians also were more likely to have Medicaid; and patients of Hispanic physicians were more likely to be uninsured.


“Nonwhite physicians provide a disproportionate share of care to underserved populations. … Our findings do not argue for buttressing de facto medical segregation or denigrate the efforts of nonminority physicians who care for the disadvantaged. Nonetheless, it is clear that the preferences of physicians in choosing practice settings and of patients in choosing physicians combine to create an outsized role for minority physicians caring for the disadvantaged,” the study concludes.

(JAMA Intern Med. Published online December 30, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.12756. Available pre-embargo to the media at


Editor’s Note: This study was supported by grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration and other funding sources. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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