Infectious Disease

Black adults report being discriminated against in healthcare

August 13, 2021

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Black adults reported being discriminated against or unfairly judged by health care providers three times as often as white adults and twice as likely as Hispanic or “Latin” adults, according to recent survey data.

The survey was conducted by the Urban Institute with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in December 2020. The sample included more than 7,500 adults aged 18 to 64 years.

Source: The Urban Institute

Among respondents, 10.4% of black women and 4.2% of black men reported being treated or judged unfairly on the basis of race or ethnicity in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital, compared with 5.8% of Hispanic or ” Latin “women, 4.6% of Hispanic or” Latinx “men, 1.3% of white women, and 1.1% of white men.

In a follow-up poll published by the same groups, 22 out of 39 black people who took part in a telephone interview said they were personally discriminated against or judged unfairly when seeking medical help at some point in their lives.

Sweet Gonzalez

Dulce Gonzalez, MPP, a research assistant in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, and colleagues interviewed the respondents between December 2020 and February 2021. Of the interview sample, 24 respondents were women, two thirds had incomes below the poverty line, around 50% came from the south and 25% from the midwest.

Of the 39 people, 12 said they had experienced discrimination and were unfairly judged in the previous year, 18 said they had not experienced discrimination or unfair judgments, and nine said they had not experienced discrimination but felt they were being disrespected by the health system. Most respondents indicated that the health system does not treat all patients equally.

Seventeen respondents said they had no direct experience of discrimination, but around half of them knew a family member or friend who had had such an experience. According to the data, women reported being discriminated against or judged more often than men.

Several factors cited by respondents as contributing to inequality were race and ethnicity, income, insurance status and gender. About a third of respondents preferred vendors who shared their race, largely because of cultural proficiency, according to Gonzalez and colleagues. Additionally, people who experienced perceived discrimination or unfair judgment were more reluctant to get COVID-19 vaccines.

Although around two-thirds of people had chronic health conditions, many reported delaying treatment, looking for a new health care provider, or not receiving treatment, Gonzalez said.

“All of these have implications for people’s ability to meet their health needs, including controlling or treating chronic conditions,” Gonzalez told Healio Primary Care. “This could really exacerbate health inequalities for Black and Hispanic / Latin American adults.”

References:

Municipal Institute. Black and African American Adults’ Perspectives on Discrimination and Unfair Judgment in Healthcare. https://www.urban.org/research/publication/black-and-african-american-adults-perspectives-diskrimination-and-unfair-judgment-health-care/view/related_publications. Retrieved August 10, 2021.

Municipal Institute. Perception of unfair treatment or judgment based on race or ethnicity in five situations. https://www.urban.org/research/publication/perceptions-unfair-treatment-or-judgment-due-race-or-ethnicity-five-settings. Retrieved August 10, 2021.

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Race and medicine

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