NIH Awards Duke Center $7.2M For Patient-Centered Research

Jan 12, 2018

File photo of Dr. Francis Aniekwensi, a partner at Beckford Medical Center, in Warren County, N.C. The National Institutes of Health has awarded $7.2 million to the REACH Equity Center at Duke Health to study minority research care.
Credit Christine Nguyen, The Daily Dispatch / For WUNC

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $7.2 million to the REACH Equity Center at Duke Health. Research shows that minorities often receive poor-quality health care.

The center’s goal is to help clinicians offer more effective "patient-centered care," said Director Kimberly Johnson.

“And that care is good communication, shared decision-making in the clinical encounter, and care that really includes respectful and trusting interactions,” she said. “We know that that kind of care really is of lower quality for minorities.”

Studies show minority patients often receive poorer quality health care. That's partly because of prejudice on the part of care providers, whether they realize it or not. Johnson said REACH Equity is working on several projects to help doctors examine their potential biases and communicate better with patients.

“The real purpose of REACH Equity is to move from simply describing the existence of disparities in health care to finding ways to reduce or eliminate them,” Johnson said. “Our focus is really on how we can improve the time that patients and providers interact in the clinical setting.”

Johnson said medical providers are as susceptible to implicit bias as anyone else in society. Many industries have been trying to train professionals to recognize their own biases.

“We're really excited about trying to put some science or evidence behind what we're doing and trying to do what is the best way to mitigate the effects of this unconscious bias in patient care,” she said.