Your Feb. 6 editorial "Unhealthy Suspicion" leaves the reader with a misguided impression of why African-American parents are reluctant to participate in clinical trials at Children's Hospital.
The real explanation is not the horrific Tuskegee experiments but rather the parents' experiential history of regular encounters with a sometimes insensitive delivery system too busy to explain in layman's terms the details of a procedure or care provided.
In research for my book, "Doctor, Can You Hear Me? Patient, Are You Listening?" I interviewed 1,500 patients, white and African American. More than half of them recounted, with anger, frustration and resignation, their failed attempts to communicate with their doctors.
I would suggest that your simplistic admonition for parents to become "more sophisticated" should include an admonition to care providers to take a moment to listen and to hear the parents' need to understand the system and environment. A clear understanding will encourage parents to partner in the care of their children.
When parents hear and physicians listen, the outcome will always benefit the child/patient.
MARGARET S. WASHINGTON
The writer served for 23 years as executive director of the End-Stage Renal Disease Network operating out of UPMC. She currently speaks to professional and community audiences on doctor-patient relationships.