A new poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Undefeated has highlighted the deep distrust between Black Americans and health professionals.
The poll found that eight out of 10 white Americans trust their doctors to do what it is right. In comparison, the poll found that six out of 10 Black Americans trust their doctors to do what is right. Furthermore, only 56% of Black Americans trust their local hospital while nearly 70% of white Americans do.
As the pandemic worsens, reports of mistreatment continue to worsen. In 1999, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 56% of Black Americans felt the health care system treats people unfairly based on race “very often” or “somewhat often.” In 2020, nearly 70% of Black Americans felt the health care systems treats people unfairly based on race "somewhat often" or "very often." Adding on, the two organizations found that one out of every five Black Americans experienced mistreatment because of their race while getting healthcare for themselves or a loved one.
Diving deeper in to the report, the study shows that Black women in general and Black women with children have experienced discrimination at the highest level. Fifteen percent of Black men reported being treated unfairly because of their race while receiving healthcare, but 25% of Black women reported experiencing racial discrimination while obtaining healthcare. Making matters worse, 37% of Black women with children reported the same type of discrimination.
“It just shows how deeply rooted or entrenched some of these attitudes are," Faith Mitchell of the Urban Health Institute said.
Reports of distrust between Black Americans and the healthcare system will become a tipping point in the near future as COVID-19 vaccine trials continue. Multiple health officials have reported concerns over the lack of Black participants in vaccine trials.
“If you don’t have enough people like you in those vaccine trials, you will not know if it works for you,” Dr. Vladimir Berthaud said about the lack of Black representation in COVID-19 vaccine trials.
However, the longstanding distrust between Black Americans and the healthcare system that has existed through the Tuskegee Experiments, studying of Henrietta Lacks' cells and other historical events shows no signs of dissipating. As the COVID-19 virus continues to kill Black Americans at a disproportionate rate, health officials are not hopeful that much will change in the near future.
“I don’t think the health care system is ready to confront these issues head-on,” Grantmakers In Health CEO Cara James said.
“Pockets of it are, but overall we’re not there yet.”
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