Knowledge and Attitudes of Anesthesia among African Americans.

Edwin Yamoah, MD (
Department of Anesthesiology, UCLA Medical Center
May, 2009


Background: Lack of knowledge and presence of misconceptions about anesthesia may decrease patient satisfaction and result in interference of medical care. We conducted a study to evaluate knowledge, misconceptions, fears and perceptions about anesthesia among underserved adult patients visiting a Los Angeles inner city clinic serving predominantly African American patients. Method: This study was a cross-sectional survey study of 100 consenting adult patients visiting a south Los Angeles inner-city clinic. Patient eligibility: age more than 18, both male and female, English speaking, all ethnicities, pre and non-preoperative patients with or without previous experience with anesthesia. Study measures include: socio-demographics, previous experience with anesthesia, physician satisfaction, fears, and knowledge about anesthesia.
Results: Of the sample 60% were female, and 40% male; 29% were age 36-49 years and 44% were 50-65 years old. African American comprised 93% of the sample and 6% were Hispanic. Twenty three percent never had surgery requiring general anesthesia while 28% had more than 2 surgeries. Twenty one percent said they would refuse surgery due to fear of anesthesia. Average scores on knowledge questions were 58% correct (knowledge), 19% incorrect (misconceptions) and 23% answered as don’t know (lack of knowledge). Between 25 to 56% of patients were very concerned about minor complications while 62 to 79% of patients were very concerned about major complications. Lack of knowledge about general anesthesia was associated with less concern about the major risks of anesthesia (p= sig). Those who reported higher level of concern about major or minor risks of anesthesia were more likely to refuse surgery in the future due to fear of anesthesia (major risks p= 0.02, minor risks p= sig). Conclusion: Participants in our sample had high fears or concerns for risks of anesthesia. Implications and future directions for Anesthesiologists caring for African American patients are offered.

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