Joined by Clara from Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep), we’re moving on to Passage 4 which covers a study that tested whether patient compliance can be prompted by social characteristics.
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[02:39] Passage 4
Patient engagement is a good thing for a physician to track, as engaged patients have better health outcomes and better health care experiences. Engagement is affected by both medical and social factors, including race. A recent AMA study showed that relative to Asian physicians, Hispanic physicians experience a lower rate of patient engagement, particularly with medication compliance. This may be because people assume that Hispanics are less qualified to be physicians. Patient survey results showed that Hispanic physical cues decreased engagement, while Asian physical cues raised engagement. This influence grew stronger with stronger physical race cues.
In a study performed by a healthcare research group, three subscales from the Model of Hispanic Identity were used to create racial identity clusters. Table 1 outlines the correlation analytics from a sample of 208 Hispanic female caregivers. Racial centrality examined the extent to which being Hispanic was an important part of the person’s overall self-concept. Private regard assessed the positive evaluation of one’s racial group. Public regard examined the extent to which the individual believed that others help positive evaluations of the Hispanic racial group.
Seeking to support the theory that patient compliance can be prompted by social, rather than physical, characteristics, healthcare researchers designed an experiment to study social cues and their impact on patient engagement. Participants were shown random photos of Hispanic and Asian individuals in traditional medical professional attire (white lab coat and scrubs). They were asked to state if they believed the person in the photo to be a physician, nurse, or dietician. Next, each participant was asked to rank how likely they would be to follow the medical advice offered by the individual in the photo. Rankings were taken on a 7-point scale, with 7 indicating a high level of compliance.
[05:03] Question 19
Which of the following is most likely to be a statement listed in the questionnaire section on racial centrality?
(A) “In general, other groups view Hispanics in a positive manner.”
(B) “Being Hispanic is an important reflection of who I am.”
(C) “I feel good about Hispanic people.”
(D) Hispanics have to work twice as hard as whites to get ahead.”
The correct answer here is B. Whenever it seems too straightforward, this can be a clue that it’s correct. People can get tripped up more often assuming that the question should be harder than they are on the MCAT. Some students still miss this question though as they may read the passage too quickly and not notice that racial centrality is in it. They would then assume it’s a term you’re supposed to know.
[06:53] Question 20
The AMA study discussed in the passage suggests that the racial perception seen in the patient-physician interactions primarily relies on:
(A) cultural behaviors.
(B) economic signals.
(C) physical traits.
(D) social cues.
The correct answer here is C. The passage referenced the AMA study, which talks about Hispanic physical cues and Asian physical cues. But they didn’t really tell us about what those cues are. But the focus here would be the physical traits, which is how we’re supposed to get to this answer.
Personally, I would disagree with the question writer on this because physical traits and physical cues are different things. Physical cues would have been the correct answer here; whereas they never used the concept of social cues in verbatim when it was referenced in the AMA study.
[10:05] Question 21
A patient’s refusal to follow the advice of a Hispanic physician is an illustration of which psychological concept?
(A) Cognitive dissonance
(B) Racial stereotyping
(C) Racial bias
(D) Racial discrimination
The correct answer here is D. You really need to know the definitions because they are so close. Distinguishing each of them is something students have trouble with on the MCAT. There is certainly some sort of stereotype here, but it’s leading to an actual, specific action. The patient is actually behaving differently because their physician is Hispanic. And refusing to follow the physician’s advice is a type of behavior, which is a type of discrimination. If they hadn’t acted upon it, then that would be more closely tied into racial stereotyping.
Racial bias is a general term, which is a thought process that tends towards treating one thing differently from another. However, this term is extremely broad. But the behavior described in this question basically denotes discrimination.
Cognitive dissonance is a little bit separate. It’s an MCAT-relevant term that refers to the state of mind where a person’s behavior and their beliefs are at odds with one another. For instance, you believe smoking is wrong but you still smoke every once in a while. You’re going to experience cognitive dissonance where over time, you would feel uncomfortable and you’re likely to either change your belief or you’ll change your action and stop doing that behavior. Obviously, cognitive resonance is not relevant to the question.
[13:35] Know Your Definitions
The big takeaway here is to know the definitions. In the same way, you need to know all of the amino acids, how to draw them, and the three-letter abbreviations.
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