Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 968–980 | Cite as

Patient-clinician interactions and disparities in breast cancer care: the equality in breast cancer care study

  • Felisa A. Gonzales
  • Meera Sangaramoorthy
  • Laura A. Dwyer
  • Salma Shariff-Marco
  • Amani M. Allen
  • Allison W. Kurian
  • Juan Yang
  • Michelle M. Langer
  • Laura Allen
  • Bryce B. Reeve
  • Stephen H. Taplin
  • Scarlett Lin GomezEmail author



To examine whether interpersonal aspects of patient-clinician interactions, such as patient-perceived medical discrimination, clinician mistrust, and treatment decision-making contribute to racial/ethnic/educational disparities in breast cancer care.


A telephone interview was administered to 542 Asian/Pacific Islander (API), Black, Hispanic, and White women identified through the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry, ages 20 and older diagnosed with a first primary invasive breast cancer. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated from logistic regression models that assessed associations between race/ethnicity/education, medical discrimination, clinician mistrust, and treatment decision-making with concordance to breast cancer treatment guidelines (guideline-concordant treatment) and perceived quality of care (pQoC).


Approximately three-quarters of women received treatment that was guideline-concordant (76.6%) and reported that their breast cancer care was excellent (72.1%). Non-college-educated Black women had lower odds of guideline-concordant care (aOR (CI) = 0.29 (0.12–0.67)) vs. college-educated White women. Odds of excellent pQoC were lower among the following: college-educated Hispanic women (aOR (CI) = 0.09 (0.02–0.47)) and API women regardless of education (aORs ≤ 0.50) vs. college-educated White women, women reporting low and moderate levels of discrimination (aORs ≤ 0.44) vs. none, and women reporting any clinician mistrust (aOR (CI) = 0.50 (0.29–0.88)) vs. none. Disparities in guideline-concordant care and pQoC persisted after controlling for medical discrimination, clinician mistrust, and decision-making.


Interpersonal aspects of the patient-clinician interaction had an impact on pQoC but not receipt of guideline-concordant treatment and did not explain disparities in either outcome.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Although breast cancer survivors’ interpersonal interactions with clinicians did not influence receipt of appropriate treatment, intervention strategies to improve patient-clinician relations may help attenuate disparities in survivors’ pQoC.


Disparities Breast cancer Discrimination Decision-making Mistrust 



We would like to thank Dr. Gem Le, Dr. Thu Quach, the staff of the Equality in Breast Cancer Care (EBCC) Study, and the EBCC participants for their contributions to this study.

Funding information

The collection of cancer incidence data used in this study was supported by the California Department of Public Health pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Section 103885; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Program of Cancer Registries, under cooperative agreement 5NU58DP006344; the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program under contract HHSN261201800032I awarded to the University of California, San Francisco, contract HHSN261201800015I awarded to the University of Southern California, and contract HHSN261201800009I awarded to the Public Health Institute, Cancer Registry of Greater California. The ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the State of California, Department of Public Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or their Contractors and Subcontractors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felisa A. Gonzales
    • 1
  • Meera Sangaramoorthy
    • 2
  • Laura A. Dwyer
    • 3
  • Salma Shariff-Marco
    • 2
    • 4
  • Amani M. Allen
    • 5
  • Allison W. Kurian
    • 6
    • 7
  • Juan Yang
    • 2
  • Michelle M. Langer
    • 8
  • Laura Allen
    • 2
  • Bryce B. Reeve
    • 9
  • Stephen H. Taplin
    • 10
  • Scarlett Lin Gomez
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, The Colorado TrustNational Cancer InstituteRockvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, School of MedicineUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Cape Fox Facilities ServicesManassasUSA
  4. 4.Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.School of Public HealthUniversity of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  6. 6.Health Research & Policy (Epidemiology), School of MedicineStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  7. 7.Stanford Cancer InstituteStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  8. 8.Department of Medical Social Sciences, Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  9. 9.Center for Health MeasurementDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA
  10. 10.Center for Global HealthNational Cancer InstituteRockvilleUSA

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