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Drawing from interviews conducted as part of a study of older African Americans with multimorbidity, we argue how various forms of racism work together to shape communication between doctors and patients. By focusing on what patients say about pain, we highlight patient descriptions of their relationships with pain management, their interactions with healthcare providers, and how they navigate understanding their chronic conditions. Our documentation of patient experience with stigmas and biases suggests what is needed for more empathetic and effective communication within the doctor and patient relationship. We conclude by using the interview data to propose addressing racial inequality in health care in the United States through educational reform and training initiatives grounded in rhetorical research.
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