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Tuesday, March 31, 2015
African Americans and Proper Health Care
What are the statistics for African Americans going to doctor`s offices and clinics? Why is it so low?
Thank you very much for the question. Your question raises an important set of issues that are pertinent to improving the overall quality of health in this community and this nation. Historically, it has been reported that African Americans, particularly men, do not have a usual source of care compared to the general population. However, a recent report from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality found that in 2004 indicates that this gap may be closing. In 2003, the proportion of African Americans who reported having a primary care provider was less than that of Whites (73% vs 78%). There are a number of reasons why African Americans may not visit a primary care physician:
- African Americans (particularly young adult males) have a higher unemployment rate than their White counterparts. Since most insurance is attached to employment, they are more likely to be uninsured.
- African Americans may live in neighborhoods that have fewer physicians or clinics, thereby limiting their access to medical care
- Since African Americans have fewer financial resources, their ability to purchase medical services may be more limited
- As a result of historical injustices (i.e. The Tuskegee Experiment) some African Americans may have a distrust of the medical system.
These are just a few of the many reasons why African Americans may seek medical care less often than White Americans. For additional information I want to refer you to the National Healthcare Disparities Report released in 2006. Please see the attached website address.
Stephen E Wilson, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati