Last week I discussed the phenomenon that, though more women experience pain than men, they are chronically undertreated. Ethnic minorities, including African Americans, are known to be undertreated as well. Not surprisingly, low-income patients experience the same disparity.
One could point to subtle gender, class, and racial biases as the reason why such disparities exist. While I would agree that these are problems we ought to address, I think the real culprit is far more subtle and prevalent: physicians just have a low aptitude for empathy.