Lack of Racial and Ethnic Diversity Among Addiction Physicians


Maria Garcia, Janet Coffman, Ayana Jordan, and Marlene Martin

January 31, 2022

Compared to white individuals, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx individuals have decreased access to addiction care, lower rates of addiction treatment, and higher rates of incarceration, non-fatal overdose, and death. Racial/ethnic concordance between patients and clinicians has been associated with improved communication and patient satisfaction with care and may lead to improved addiction outcomes including medication adherence and treatment retention. To understand addiction physician diversity, we evaluated the physician race/ ethnicity by gender, career stage, and practice characteristics using American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) membership data.

ASAM provided de-identified 2021 membership data, including race/ethnicity, gender (male/female), career stage, clinical specialty, addiction certification, and practice location (state). We included active US physicians, classifying specialties into three categories (addiction specialty, primary care, and other) and practice location into seven regions. We compared gender, career stage, and practice characteristics by race/ethnicity and ASAM member physicians certified by one of the addiction boards to those not certified, using chi-square tests (Stata version 14.2; College Station, TX: StataCorp LP).

Nearly 1 in 4 ASAM members did not provide race/ethnicity data. Black, Indigenous, and Latinx physicians comprised 12% of ASAM members who reported their race/ethnicity (N=276 of 2,251 members). While two-thirds of physicians overall identify as men, 75% of Indigenous physicians and 45% of Black physicians identify as women; 4% did not answer the binary question.

Race/ethnicity was similar across career stages (12% residents/fellows, 14% early career, and 13% regular members reported race/ethnicity as Black, Indigenous, or Latinx). Racial/ethnic diversity varied by region; more Black and Latinx physicians practice in the Southern region. Asian, Black, and Indigenous physicians were less likely to have addiction board certification compared to white physicians.