Black Gastroenterologists, Hepatologists Unsatisfied With Racial, Ethnic Workplace Diversity

Racial and ethnic workplace diversity in gastroenterology and hepatology is lacking.

A discrepancy in satisfaction with racial and ethnic workplace diversity exists among gastroenterology and hepatology professionals, with 63.3% of Black physicians unsatisfied and 77.7% of White physicians satisfied with the status quo. The study findings were published in Gastroenterology.

Researchers developed a 33-question cross-sectional survey for gastroenterologists and hepatologists to determine their perspectives on current racial, ethnic, and sex diversity within the field; to assess views on interventions needed to increase racial, ethnic, and sex diversity; and to obtain data on the experiences of underrepresented in medicine (UIM) individuals and women in gastroenterology and hepatology.

The study population included gastroenterology and hepatology medical professionals in the United States who were members of at least 1 of the 5 national societies in the Intersociety Group on Diversity (IGD).

A total of 28,085 online surveys were distributed, and 1219 responses were received (4.3% response rate). A majority of participants self-identified as male (62.3%). Non-Hispanic White individuals (48.7%) were the largest racial and ethnic group, and the largest age group was those aged 31 to 40 years (24.7%).

More than 40% of participants … felt that future efforts to improve racial and ethnic workforce diversity in [gastroenterology] and hepatology should include an increase in career mentorship opportunities for UIM [underrepresented in medicine] individuals.

Among the UIM responders, 10.6% self-identified as Latinx, 9.1% as non-Hispanic Black, and 0.2% as non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native.

A majority of responders (53.9%) worked in an academic setting, followed by private practice (36.0%), with general gastroenterology the most common subspecialty focus (59.7%), followed by hepatology (14.0%).

A majority of participants were very satisfied (34.8%) or somewhat satisfied (38.2%) with the racial and ethnic diversity in their workplace; 16.6% were unsatisfied and 8.1% were very unsatisfied.

The most common barriers to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in gastroenterology and hepatology among the responders were insufficient representation of racial and ethnic minority groups in the educational and training pipeline (35.4%), insufficient racial and ethnic minority group representation in professional leadership (27.9%), and insufficient racial and ethnic minority group representation in practicing gastroenterology and hepatology professionals in the workplace (26.6%).

In addition, 44.7% of participants believed that future efforts to improve racial and ethnic workforce diversity should include an increase in career mentorship opportunities for UIM individuals. Other recommendations included increasing medical student opportunities (42.7%) and UIM representation in training programs and professional society leadership (38.8%).

A majority of survey responders (58%) reported that increasing workforce diversity would affect patient care by increasing the willingness of racial and ethnic minority patients to receive medical care. Furthermore, 44.5% reported that increased UIM representation among providers would increase patient satisfaction with medical care.

The researchers noted that their findings may not represent the views of gastroenterology and hepatology professionals who do not have access to or use electronic communication. Also, responder bias is possible as the investigators were unable to determine an exact survey response rate owing to multiple society memberships and the desire of the societies to preserve member confidentiality.

“More than 40% of participants (n=545 [44.7%]) felt that future efforts to improve racial and ethnic workforce diversity in [gastroenterology] and hepatology should include an increase in career mentorship opportunities for UIM [underrepresented in medicine] individuals,” the study authors wrote. “Additional recommendations were to increase medical student opportunities (n=520 [42.7%]) in [gastroenterology] and hepatology and to increase UIM representation in training program and professional society leadership (n=473 [38.8%]).”

References:

Rahal HK, Tabibian JH, Issaka RB, et al. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in gastroenterology and hepatology: a survey of where we stand. Gastroenterology. Published online October 11, 2022. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2022.06.059