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KatawaGrey's avatar

What can be done about racist medical practices in the USA?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21433points) October 12th, 2010

In my Anthropology class today, we read in our textbooks that heart disease kills more black Americans than any other racial group in the US. I had heard this and thought it was genetic. I thought black people were more prone to getting heart disease or else it was somehow worse in people of African descent than in people of non-African descent. However, the article in our textbooks stated that a big reason why more black Americans die from heart disease than members of other races is because they are either not recommended for proper medical treatment or because being that a large portion of people below the poverty line in the US are black they simply cannot afford proper medical treatment.

In addition, the article cited studies done where doctors did not know the race of their patients but simply reviewed the patients’ tests and records and recommended correct medical attention accordingly. Those black Americans were given proper medical attention.

What does the collective propose can be done about this?

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13 Answers

JustmeAman's avatar

I’m not sure about your stats. I would think that all people that don’t have the means to medical attention would be at greater risk. I know there have been times in my life I couldn’t get some tests done in the hospital because I couldn’t afford it and they flat out refused unless I paid for it first.

Mikewlf337's avatar

Did you even try to consider the diet of many African Americans? I am not being racist by saying this. This is based on observation of black people I know and those I have seen around me. Alot of black americans eat comfort food that is popular in the south. Alot of fried food. Alot of white people love it too but it is to be considered that soul food is meant for taste and not for a healthy heart. If heart disease is prevelant in your family than you need to consider the best diet for you. Alot of African Americans who are poor do not care about how healthy something is. They eat pretty much the same thing rednecks eat. Come to think about it my eating habits aren’t healthy either. I doubt that doctors reject patients because they are black. That is just rediculous. They may not treat a person because of financial reasons but not because they are black.

MeinTeil's avatar

The above question doesn’t mention an example of racism.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Mikewlf337: Please re-read the question. The question is not about people who get heart disease, it is about people who die of heart disease. Black people may eat more “Southern comfort food” as you put it, but this is no reason for a black person not to be prescribed proper medical treatment.

@MeinTeil: You are absolutely correct! A black person denied prescription for proper medical treatment based on race isn’t racist at all…

Mikewlf337's avatar

@KatawaGrey News to me. I thought this was the 2010 not 1965. I don’t think many blacks are denied medical attention because of the their race. If they cannot afford it then they are denied for financial reasons not because of their race.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Mikewlf337: You still haven’t gotten the gist of my details. If someone, regardless of race, cannot afford to pay for medical treatment, that’s one thing. However, if someone is not even told about possible medical treatments, therein lies the problem.

Mikewlf337's avatar

@KatawaGrey can you prove they weren’t told because they were black?

JustmeAman's avatar

I don’t believe they were not told because they were black And how do you know they were not told? I guess you assumed that based on the article. But I don’t see that happening. Not saying that it doesn’t happen but I have never seen it.

xxii's avatar

I find it really hard to believe that black people are denied access to medical treatment. I think that’s a pretty sweeping generalisation to make when there are a lot of factors that weigh into a person’s dying from heart disease. Can you provide a link or citation to this article?

Kayak8's avatar

There are quite a few variables that play into this (heart disease) as well as diabetes and other conditions (HIV) in the African American community (and other minority communities as well).

1. One must ask if it is culturally normative behavior to seek preventative care. Frequently, poverty is a major deterrent to preventative care and poorer folks are seen most frequently AFTER a condition has had a chance to worsen (and when the outcome of treatment may not be as good), the individual showing up for medical care when the symptoms can no longer be managed at home. So is it that African Americans are seen later in their disease progression because of race, poverty, or some combination of both?

2. What has been the collective cultural experience of the medical system? If Blacks in the US have recollection of (or have heard stories of) the Tuskegee Experiment (wherein African American males with syphilis were allowed to go untreated even after the advent of penicillin in order to measure the effects of syphilis when untreated), that would seem to be a major deterrent to trusting the medical community. During Tuskegee, even Black doctors in the public health system were co-opted, further eroding trust in the medical establishment. The movie, Ms. Ever’s Boys (1997), was a fairly recent recounting of the tale that individuals who are now adults may have seen. The movie served to further inform members of the community who may have otherwise been unaware of the Tuskegee Experiment.

3. What is the cultural tradition for natural or traditional remedies? If I am a member of a group of people with healers (religious or otherwise) as elders of my group, what is the likelihood that I will seek medical care from expensive folks I don’t really trust and who may not be a part of my cultural tradition?

4. Further, if my thoughts/concerns about my health is in any way associated with the level or depth of my faith (in my world view), might that not also be a deterrent to me seeking medical care? I might think I need to talk to my pastor or pray more often or more plaintively. If my condition worsens, might that not be interpreted as an indictment of my faithfulness rather than a worsening of my condition because a doctor didn’t intervene?

5. If my cultural tradition shares a fatalistic view of the world, might I also accept my illness, without intervention, in a different way than someone else who has a different world view? If I am worried about my son being arrested just for being Black or my daughter being shot in a drive-by shooting on her way to school, how likely am I going to be to seek out medical care for something I can’t even imagine or am I more likely to worry about the many horrible things I CAN imagine?

6. If I live in a matriarchal culture (because there are absent father figures in many households and strong moms and grandmothers holding the ship together), I might come to expect that Mom is going to make sure the kids get care first and Mom’s healthcare might wait until it may be too late to intervene.

7. Finally, what is my source of health information? Do I get my information from TV or the magazines that I read? Do they inadvertently support any of the above beliefs I may already hold? Are they an accurate source of health information? If I have already lived longer that the relatives I have know, might I forgo medical care if I have already beaten why I perceive as “the odds?”

MeinTeil's avatar

Different races have different health issues, deal.

Markwell's avatar

You can ask for these matters!

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