Color-Blind and Multicultural Strategies in Medical Settings

Tessa V. West, Antoinette Schoenthaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, scholars have called for research that systematically examines the role of race and culture in shaping communication during racially discordant practitioner–patient interactions (i.e., patient and physician from different racial ethnic groups). In this review, we focus on two conceptual frameworks that influence the way people think about race, and subsequently, how they interact with others of a different race: color blindness and multiculturalism. We integrate basic social psychological research on interracial laboratory interactions with research on the markers of successful practitioner–patient communication to discuss how these two strategies shape interactions between Black patients and non-Black practitioners. Given that racial discrimination is often addressed within medical education and training contexts, we also discuss how these two strategies influence how practitioners are trained to talk about race. We conclude by offering practical suggestions as to how medical interactions can be improved by taking into consideration how color-blind and multicultural strategies shape behaviors within medical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-158
Number of pages35
JournalSocial Issues and Policy Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology


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