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Study: Many Arkansans Cautious of Doctors

Minorities and poor whites in Arkansas tend to be suspicious of health care workers, a new study finds.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Minorities and poor whites in Arkansas tend to be suspicious of health care workers, a new study finds.

Dr. Eduardo Ochoa presented his findings at a meeting of the Minority Health Consortium on Tuesday. He told members that many blacks, Hispanics, Asians and poor whites are wary of hospitals and doctors.

Ochoa, a doctor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said investigators divided the 148 interviewees into groups by race and asked them questions comparing overall health and how they were treated.

"We didn't ask the leading question, 'Were you discriminated against?'" Ochoa said. "We didn't want to be heavy-handed."

The study found that one third of Arkansas Hispanics have no health insurance and that 20 percent of blacks and 13 percent of whites have no health insurance.

Ochoa said the goal was to get people to share their personal stories. From those stories, he said researchers found that most of the groups, blacks especially, distrust the health care industry.

The study also found that Arkansas blacks were two and a half times more likely to die from diabetes and more than three times as likely to die from HIV and AIDS than whites from 1990 to 2000.

It also found that minorities are heavier, with 70 percent of blacks and 60 percent of Hispanics classified as overweight or obese, compared to 50 percent of whites.

Don Adams, a vice president of the Arkansas Hospital Association, said he does not believe Arkansas hospitals treat minorities differently than whites.

"I certainly don't believe that, I really don't," Adams said. "I don't have any reason to believe that is the case."

The Arkansas Minority Health Commission paid $150,000 for the study.