For centuries, African-Americans have faced the consequences and daily struggles of discrimination in every aspect of their lives. Health care is an area in which many African-Americans have suffered the detrimental health effects of this maltreatment. In fact, racism is one of the mechanisms that explains and expands racial disparities in health.
Black Women Least Likely to Get Referred for Heart Test
In a seminal study, researcher Kevin Shulman found that the odds that Blacks and women presenting with chest pain would be referred for cardiac catheterization were 60 percent of those of whites and men. The disparity was most dramatic for Black women, whose odds of being referred for catheterization were 40 percent of those of white men. Cardiac catheterization is an X-ray-based diagnostic procedure that allows physicians to determine whether there are blockages in the coronary arteries, the vessels that feed blood to the heart muscle. The test is commonly administered to patients suspected of having coronary artery disease. Results are used to confirm a diagnosis and identify the best course of treatment.
Widespread Disrespect Reported by Black Patients
A report in the “Journal of Family Practice” by researchers Janice Blanchard of George Washington University and Nicole Lurie of the Rand Corp. found that nearly one in six Blacks reported they had been treated with disrespect by their doctor. Respondents who reported being treated with disrespect were significantly less likely to have had a physical exam within the prior year; those with diabetes, hypertension or heart disease were less likely to have received optimal care. These respondents were also more likely to report not following the doctor’s advice and putting off needed care.