Blacks mistrust health care system: study Mon Apr 24, 2006 4:02 PM ET CHICAGO (Reuters) - Black Americans are more likely than whites to distrust the health care system, in part because a lack of insurance forces them into emergency rooms or clinics where they build up no rapport with doctors and nurses, researchers said on Monday. A national survey of 432 blacks and 522 whites found the former "were significantly more likely than whites to report low trust in health care providers," wrote Chanita Hughes Halbert of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and colleagues. The survey found low levels of trust among nearly 45 percent of blacks compared to 33.5 percent of whites. Trust is important, the researchers said, because it influences the degree to which patients follow doctors' orders. The lowest level of trust among blacks was found in those who sought care somewhere other than in a doctor's office, according to the survey, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "The interpersonal relationship between patients and health care providers is a critical component of patient trust," Hughes Halbert and colleagues wrote. They said it was possible the "environmental characteristics of hospital emergency departments," known for their frequent shift changes and harried staff, may interfere with doctor-patient relationships. The survey did not find the race of the health care providers was a factor in the distrust found among black Americans. "This suggests that increased access to health care in settings where there is greater opportunity to develop effective interpersonal relationships with providers, regardless of the provider's racial or ethnic background, may improve trust," the report reads. But getting access to those more personal and private settings is a significant challenge for blacks because they are less likely than whites to have insurance coverage and more likely to rely on public programs. Training designed to improve communication with patients may be needed for providers to help both black and white patients, the report concluded, but it may be especially important to focus such efforts on those working in settings more likely to be used by black patients. The survey figures did not list a margin of error.