Health Services Research & Development

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2006 HSR&D National Meeting Abstract


1025 — Racial Differences in Attitudes Toward Innovative Medical Technology

Author List:
Groeneveld PW (Philadelphia VAMC/CHERP)
Sonnad SS (Department of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)
Lee AK (Philadelphia VAMC/CHERP)
Asch DA (Philadelphia VAMC/CHERP)
Shea JA (Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)

Objectives:
New medical technologies are used at different rates among whites and blacks. This variation may be partially explained by racial differences in patient innovativeness—the propensity of patients to adopt unfamiliar therapies. The objectives of this study were to measure how innovativeness varies among veterans and how innovativeness may influence veterans’ attitudes toward new medical technologies.

Methods:
We administered a cross-sectional survey to 171 primary care patients (108 blacks, 63 whites) at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Respondents answered questions about their general innovativeness and innovativeness regarding medical technology, and they responded to a vignette describing either a hypothetical new prescription drug or implantable device. Innovativeness and technology acceptance were scored on scales ranging from zero to four.

Results:
There were no significant racial differences in general innovativeness, but whites had higher medical technology innovativeness (mean score 2.6 for whites compared to 2.2 for blacks, p=0.001 for the difference). Whites were also more likely to accept the new prescription drug (mean score 2.4 for whites compared to 2.0 for blacks, p=0.003 for the difference) but did not differ from blacks in acceptance of the new implantable device (mean score 2.3 for whites compared to 2.4 for blacks). In multivariate analyses, lower medical technology innovativeness scores among blacks were significantly associated with less favorable reactions to both the prescription drug (p=0.001) and the medical device (p<0.001). In contrast, although whites with lower medical technology innovativeness were similarly less inclined to accept the new implantable device (p=0.02), there was no significant association between medical technology innovativeness and positive attitudes to the new prescription drug among whites.

Implications:
Blacks and whites have important differences in their attitudes toward medical innovation. These differences are associated with significant racial differences in response to specific new medical technologies. Patient innovativeness may have varying influence on decision-making depending on the type of new technology (i.e. drug, device, or procedure) offered to a patient.

Impacts:
Variation in innovativeness may be an important source of racial differences in medical technology utilization. These findings suggest potentially remediable causes for racial differences in the utilization of innovative medical technologies.