The Effect of Race/Ethnicity and Desirable Social Characteristics on Physicians' Decisions to Prescribe Opioid Analgesics

Joshua H. Tamayo-Sarver, Neal V. Dawson, Susan W. Hinze, Rita K. Cydulka, Robert Swift Wigton, Jeffrey M. Albert, Said A. Ibrahim, David W. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Racial/ethnic disparities in physician treatment have been documented in multiple areas, including emergency department (ED) analgesia. The purpose of this study was to determine if physicians were predisposed to different treatment decisions based on patient race/ethnicity and if physicians' treatment predispositions changed when socially desirable information about the patient (occupation, socioeconomic status, and relationship with a primary care physician) was made explicit. Methods: The authors developed three clinical vignettes designed to engage physicians' decision-making processes. The patient's race/ethnicity was included. Each vignette randomly included or omitted explicit socially desirable information. The authors mailed 5,750 practicing emergency physicians three clinical vignettes and a one-page questionnaire about demographic and practice characteristics. Chi-square tests of significance for bivariate analyses and multiple logistic regression were used for multivariate analyses. Results: A total of 2,872 (53%) of the 5,398 potential physician subjects participated. Patient race/ethnicity had no effect on physician prescription of opioids at discharge for African Americans, Hispanics, and whites: absolute differences in rates of prescribing opioids at discharge were less than 2% for all three conditions presented. Making socially desirable information explicit increased the prescribing rates by 4% (95% CI = 0.1% to 8%) for the migraine vignette and 6% (95% CI = 3% to 8%) for the back pain vignette. Conclusions: Patient race/ethnicity did not influence physicians' predispositions to treatment plans in clinical vignettes. Even knowing that the patient had a high-prestige occupation and a primary care provider only minimally increased prescribing of opioid analgesics for conditions with few objective findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1239-1248
Number of pages10
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Volume10
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2003

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Opioid Analgesics
Physicians
Occupations
Sociological Factors
Primary Care Physicians
Chi-Square Distribution
Therapeutics
Back Pain
Migraine Disorders
Hispanic Americans
Social Class
African Americans
Analgesia
Prescriptions
Hospital Emergency Service
Primary Health Care
Decision Making
Emergencies
Multivariate Analysis
Logistic Models

Keywords

  • Access
  • Analgesia prescription
  • Communication
  • Emergency department
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Usual source of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

Cite this

The Effect of Race/Ethnicity and Desirable Social Characteristics on Physicians' Decisions to Prescribe Opioid Analgesics. / Tamayo-Sarver, Joshua H.; Dawson, Neal V.; Hinze, Susan W.; Cydulka, Rita K.; Wigton, Robert Swift; Albert, Jeffrey M.; Ibrahim, Said A.; Baker, David W.

In: Academic Emergency Medicine, Vol. 10, No. 11, 11.2003, p. 1239-1248.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tamayo-Sarver, Joshua H. ; Dawson, Neal V. ; Hinze, Susan W. ; Cydulka, Rita K. ; Wigton, Robert Swift ; Albert, Jeffrey M. ; Ibrahim, Said A. ; Baker, David W. / The Effect of Race/Ethnicity and Desirable Social Characteristics on Physicians' Decisions to Prescribe Opioid Analgesics. In: Academic Emergency Medicine. 2003 ; Vol. 10, No. 11. pp. 1239-1248.
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abstract = "Objective: Racial/ethnic disparities in physician treatment have been documented in multiple areas, including emergency department (ED) analgesia. The purpose of this study was to determine if physicians were predisposed to different treatment decisions based on patient race/ethnicity and if physicians' treatment predispositions changed when socially desirable information about the patient (occupation, socioeconomic status, and relationship with a primary care physician) was made explicit. Methods: The authors developed three clinical vignettes designed to engage physicians' decision-making processes. The patient's race/ethnicity was included. Each vignette randomly included or omitted explicit socially desirable information. The authors mailed 5,750 practicing emergency physicians three clinical vignettes and a one-page questionnaire about demographic and practice characteristics. Chi-square tests of significance for bivariate analyses and multiple logistic regression were used for multivariate analyses. Results: A total of 2,872 (53{\%}) of the 5,398 potential physician subjects participated. Patient race/ethnicity had no effect on physician prescription of opioids at discharge for African Americans, Hispanics, and whites: absolute differences in rates of prescribing opioids at discharge were less than 2{\%} for all three conditions presented. Making socially desirable information explicit increased the prescribing rates by 4{\%} (95{\%} CI = 0.1{\%} to 8{\%}) for the migraine vignette and 6{\%} (95{\%} CI = 3{\%} to 8{\%}) for the back pain vignette. Conclusions: Patient race/ethnicity did not influence physicians' predispositions to treatment plans in clinical vignettes. Even knowing that the patient had a high-prestige occupation and a primary care provider only minimally increased prescribing of opioid analgesics for conditions with few objective findings.",
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AU - Wigton, Robert Swift

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N2 - Objective: Racial/ethnic disparities in physician treatment have been documented in multiple areas, including emergency department (ED) analgesia. The purpose of this study was to determine if physicians were predisposed to different treatment decisions based on patient race/ethnicity and if physicians' treatment predispositions changed when socially desirable information about the patient (occupation, socioeconomic status, and relationship with a primary care physician) was made explicit. Methods: The authors developed three clinical vignettes designed to engage physicians' decision-making processes. The patient's race/ethnicity was included. Each vignette randomly included or omitted explicit socially desirable information. The authors mailed 5,750 practicing emergency physicians three clinical vignettes and a one-page questionnaire about demographic and practice characteristics. Chi-square tests of significance for bivariate analyses and multiple logistic regression were used for multivariate analyses. Results: A total of 2,872 (53%) of the 5,398 potential physician subjects participated. Patient race/ethnicity had no effect on physician prescription of opioids at discharge for African Americans, Hispanics, and whites: absolute differences in rates of prescribing opioids at discharge were less than 2% for all three conditions presented. Making socially desirable information explicit increased the prescribing rates by 4% (95% CI = 0.1% to 8%) for the migraine vignette and 6% (95% CI = 3% to 8%) for the back pain vignette. Conclusions: Patient race/ethnicity did not influence physicians' predispositions to treatment plans in clinical vignettes. Even knowing that the patient had a high-prestige occupation and a primary care provider only minimally increased prescribing of opioid analgesics for conditions with few objective findings.

AB - Objective: Racial/ethnic disparities in physician treatment have been documented in multiple areas, including emergency department (ED) analgesia. The purpose of this study was to determine if physicians were predisposed to different treatment decisions based on patient race/ethnicity and if physicians' treatment predispositions changed when socially desirable information about the patient (occupation, socioeconomic status, and relationship with a primary care physician) was made explicit. Methods: The authors developed three clinical vignettes designed to engage physicians' decision-making processes. The patient's race/ethnicity was included. Each vignette randomly included or omitted explicit socially desirable information. The authors mailed 5,750 practicing emergency physicians three clinical vignettes and a one-page questionnaire about demographic and practice characteristics. Chi-square tests of significance for bivariate analyses and multiple logistic regression were used for multivariate analyses. Results: A total of 2,872 (53%) of the 5,398 potential physician subjects participated. Patient race/ethnicity had no effect on physician prescription of opioids at discharge for African Americans, Hispanics, and whites: absolute differences in rates of prescribing opioids at discharge were less than 2% for all three conditions presented. Making socially desirable information explicit increased the prescribing rates by 4% (95% CI = 0.1% to 8%) for the migraine vignette and 6% (95% CI = 3% to 8%) for the back pain vignette. Conclusions: Patient race/ethnicity did not influence physicians' predispositions to treatment plans in clinical vignettes. Even knowing that the patient had a high-prestige occupation and a primary care provider only minimally increased prescribing of opioid analgesics for conditions with few objective findings.

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