DiversityNursing Blog

African American Health Disparities

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Sep 14, 2017 @ 11:19 AM

disparities.pngResearch has documented a number of racial disparities in health care, including higher death rates among African-Americans than whites. New government data shows some significant improvements.

The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found African Americans are living longer. The death rate for African Americans has declined about 25% over 17 years, primarily for those aged 65 years and older.

However, younger African Americans are living with or dying of many conditions typically found in white Americans at older ages.The difference shows up in African Americans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s for diseases and causes of death.

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Chronic diseases and some of their risk factors may be silent or not diagnosed during these early years. Health differences are often due to economic and social conditions that are more common among African Americans than whites. For example, African American adults are more likely to report they cannot see a doctor because of cost. All Americans should have equal opportunities to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

According to the 2016 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, some disparities were getting smaller from 2000 through 2014-2015, but disparities persist, especially for poor and uninsured populations in all priority areas:

  • While 20% of measures show disparities getting smaller for Blacks and Hispanics, most disparities have not changed significantly for any racial and ethnic groups.
  • More than half of measures show that poor and low-income households have worse care than high-income households; for middle-income households, more than 40% of measures show worse care than high-income households.
  • Nearly two-thirds of measures show that uninsured people had worse care than privately insured people.

It is important to create opportunities for all Americans to pursue a healthy lifestyle. What can be done?

The Federal government is

  • Collecting data to monitor and track health and conditions that may affect health, such as poverty and high school graduation rates, through Healthy People 2020. http://bit.ly/2oDhWV4
  • Supporting partnerships between scientific researchers and community members to address diseases and conditions that affect some populations more than others.
  • Addressing heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases, which disproportionately affect African Americans, by implementing national initiatives such as Million Hearts®. http://bit.ly/2p0Ux0N
  • Supporting actions to create healthy food environments and increase physical activity in underserved communities.

Public health professionals can

  • Use proven programs to reduce disparities and barriers to create opportunities for health.
  • Work with other sectors, such as faith and community organizations, education, business, transportation, and housing, to create social and economic conditions that promote health starting in childhood.
  • Link more people to doctors, nurses, or community health centers to encourage regular and follow-up medical visits.
  • Develop and provide trainings for healthcare professionals to understand cultural differences in how patients interact with providers and the healthcare system.


Community organizations can

  • Train community health workers in underserved communities to educate and link people to free or low-cost services.
  • Conduct effective health promotion programs in community, work, school, and home settings.
  • Work across sectors to connect people with services that impact health, such as transportation and housing.
  • Help people go see their doctor, take all medications as prescribed, and get to follow-up appointments.


Healthcare providers can

  • Work with communities and healthcare professional organizations to eliminate cultural barriers to care.
  • Connect patients with community resources that can help people remember to take their medicine as prescribed, get prescription refills on time, and get to follow-up visits.
  • Learn about social and economic conditions that may put some patients at higher risk than others for having a health problem.
  • Collaborate with primary care physicians to create a comprehensive and coordinated approach to patient care.
  • Promote a trusting relationship by encouraging patients to ask questions.

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Topics: African Americans, health disparities

NIH study seeks to improve asthma therapy for African-Americans

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Mar 05, 2014 @ 10:56 AM

By National Institute of Health

Researchers will enroll around 500 African-American children and adults who have asthma in a multi-center clinical trial to assess how they react to therapies and to explore the role of genetics in determining the response to asthma treatment. This new clinical study, which will take place at 30 sites in 14 states, is aimed at understanding the best approach to asthma management in African-Americans, who suffer much higher rates of serious asthma attacks, hospitalizations, and asthma-related deaths than whites.

The Best African American Response to Asthma Drugs (BARD) study is under the auspices of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.

“This large-scale clinical effort is expected to provide new insights into how health care professionals can better manage asthma in African-Americans to improve outcomes,” said Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of the NHLBI.

“BARD reinforces the institute’s commitment to understand, reduce, and ultimately even eliminate the disparities in asthma outcomes observed in the African-American population compared to other Americans with asthma,” added James Kiley, M.D., director of the NHLBI Division of Lung Diseases.

BARD will examine the effectiveness of different doses of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) used with or without the addition of a long-acting beta agonist (LABA). ICS reduce inflammation and help control asthma in the long term. LABAs relax tight airway muscles. This study will compare multiple combinations of medications and dosing regimens to assess the response to therapy. BARD will track whether children and adults respond similarly to the same treatment, and evaluate how genes may affect treatment response.

“While national asthma guidelines provide recommendations for all patients with asthma, it is possible that, compared with other groups, African-Americans respond differently to asthma medications,” said Michael Wechsler, M.D., principal investigator for the BARD study and professor of medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver. “Our study is designed to specifically address how asthma should be managed in African-American asthma patients, both adults and children.”

The BARD study is supported by NHLBI’s AsthmaNet clinical trials network. BARD began enrolling patients on Feb. 10.

To schedule an interview with an NHLBI spokesperson, please contact the NHLBI Office of Communications at 301-496-4236 or nhlbi_news@nhlbi.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Topics: NIH, asthma, African Americans, therapy, BARD

Nurturing Nursing’s Diversity

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 @ 11:47 AM

When it comes to nursing education, African Americans tend to aim for more advanced degrees, yet their percentage among all U.S. nurses is far lower than it is in the general U.S. population. Phyllis Sharps, PhD, RN, FAAN, intends to find out what is behind that disconnect as a key step toward correcting it.

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Sharps, associate dean for Community and Global Programs, director of the Center for Global Nursing, and the principal investigator for a $20,000 grant from the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA), will use the funding to conduct a national survey to identify the drivers and barriers to success among African-American nursing students and nurses. Through research funded by the new grant, “Enhancing the Diversity of the Nursing Profession: Assessing the Mentoring Needs of African American Nursing Students,” Sharps hopes to determine what mentoring needs are essential to keeping African-American nursing students on track in their education and their career paths.

While African-Americans are underrepresented in the profession (5.5 percent of U.S. nurses vs. 13.1 percent of the U.S. population), the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) shows that African Americans as well as other minority groups in nursing are more likely to pursue baccalaureate and higher degrees—52.5 percent pursue degrees beyond the associate level, while only 48.4 percent of their white counterparts seek equal degrees.

“As nurses, we all know what we needed while attending nursing school,” says Reverend Dr. Deidre Walton, NBNA President. “We need to have a better understanding of what this generation of nursing students needs in this new technological and innovative world of nursing.”

Source: John Hopkins University

Topics: diversity, nurse, education, NBNA, African Americans

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