Unequal Treatment: The effect of social position on patient-provider interactions


  • Maya Joshi




This paper is a reflective examination of literature, theory and recent news media to explore how one’s social position impacts patient-provider interactions in Canadian healthcare. I argue that the compounding factors of racism, classism and gender bias influence the way patients’ symptoms are perceived and treated by healthcare providers; due to the intersectional nature of this phenomenon, low-income racialized women are disproportionately impacted. The multiple forms of stigma these patients face can affect the way providers view their credibility, the seriousness of their symptoms and their ‘worthiness’ to receive diagnostic testing and treatment. I provide evidence that patients’ comfort, safety and health outcomes are directly impacted by such experiences, and have even resulted in cases of death in Canada. I suggest that these findings cannot be separated from the White male identity and rigid biomedical framework, which continues to dominate medicine. I conclude with reflections regarding the need for change and propose that in order to address the root of these issues, we must deconstruct the prolific nature of racism, classism and sexism in our society more generally.