Background/Objectives: Ideally, doctors ask each patient's current views about involvement in decision-making, but inquiries prove inconclusive with some inpatients. Doctors may then need indirect indicators of those views. We, therefore, explored ethnic group and sex as cultural indicators of patients' current preferences and perceptions about such involvement. Methods: In open-response interviews, we asked those preferences and perceptions of 26 Mexican American (MA), 18 Euro-American (EA), and 14 African American (AA) adult inpatients. We content-analyzed responses blindly to identify themes and linked those themes to ethnic group and sex. Results: Only sex indicated patients' current preferences. Regardless of ethnic group, most men preferred decision-making by the doctor (with or without the patient); most women, decision-making by the patient (with or without the doctor). But both ethnic group and sex together indicated patients' current perceptions. Specifically, each ethnic group as a whole most often perceived decision-making by the doctor alone and the patient alone on separate occasions, but the sexes within ethnic groups differed. For MAs roughly equal numbers of men and women perceived such decision making, for EAs more men than women did so, and for AAs more women than men did so. In addition, no EA men but some EA women perceived decision-making by the doctor alone, and some MA men and women - but no EAs or AAs - perceived decision-making by the patient alone. Primarily ethnic group indicated matches between current preferences and perceptions: Most EAs had matches; most MAs and AAs did not. Conclusions: Whenever direct inquiries fail, ethnic group and sex may indicate adult inpatients' current preferences and perceptions about involvement in decision-making. Yet matching those preferences and perceptions, especially for minority patients, remains difficult.
- cross-cultural comparisons
- physician-patient relations
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health