DiversityNursing Blog

This Ballerina Is Shedding Light On Racial Bias In Healthcare

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Aug 24, 2020 @ 11:16 AM

ingridsilva Ingrid Silva, a ballerina of The Dance Theatre of Harlem, is using the current closing of theaters and performance venues to expose racial bias in healthcare. In the past, Ingrid received praise and recognition for creating a line of ballet shoes in an array of skin tones for dancers of all races and cultures.

Silva founded a nonprofit organization called EmpowHer. EmpowHer NY is a social catalyst that ignites the conversation about women who break through the glass ceiling imposed by society and live authentically according to their truth.

Recently EmpowHer and The Bloc teamed up to create a video called 'The Call Project'.

According to Forbes, this project is an experiment where actress Corin Wells made multiple calls to a 24-hour Nurses health hotline. Wells used a white-coded name and voice as well as a Black-coded name and tone. The results showed that 77% of her “black” alias calls ended with a recommendation to go to an urgent care facility, a protocol for minor health issues. However, her “white alias,” using the same script, was advised to go to the ER, which is protocol for any patient with urgent symptoms of an appendicitis.

Empowher believes, "When it comes to getting proper healthcare, it shouldn’t matter what your name is or how you sound like. Your pain shouldn’t be underestimated because of biological myths that are not only scientifically false but also fantastical in nature."

The goal of this experiment is to address racial biases in healthcare and to make unconscious bias training mandatory for hospitals and healthcare to ensure quality healthcare.

Silva said, “It’s been past time for us to speak up on this matter for the black community worldwide. This is our way of saying enough already!”

You can join the movement in the fight for equality in healthcare. EmpowHer is offering a petition to make unconscious bias training a mandatory requirement for hospitals across the country. You can sign the petition here.

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Topics: racism, racism in healthcare, racial health disparities, Racial Bias In Healthcare, Racial bias

Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

Posted by Diversity Nursing

Tue, Sep 24, 2019 @ 10:28 AM

pregnancyWomen of color in the United States suffer unacceptably poor maternal health outcomes, including high rates of death related to pregnancy or childbirth.

The Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System started in 1987 and since then, the number of reported pregnancy-related deaths in the United States increased from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births to 17.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.

Considerable racial/ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related mortality exist. During 2011–2015, the pregnancy-related mortality ratios were—

  • 42.8 deaths per 100,000 live births for black non-Hispanic women.
  • 32.5 deaths per 100,000 live births for American Indian/Alaskan Native non-Hispanic women.
  • 14.2 deaths per 100,000 live births for Asian/Pacific Islander non-Hispanic women.
  • 13.0 deaths per 100,000 live births for white non-Hispanic women.
  • 11.4 deaths per 100,000 live births for Hispanic women.

Variability in the risk of death by race/ethnicity indicates that more can be done to understand and reduce pregnancy-related deaths.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American mothers die at a rate that's 3.3 times greater than whites, and Native American or Alaskan Native women die at a rate 2.5 times greater than whites.

Pregnancy-related mortality rates are also high among certain subgroups of Hispanic women. A Science Direct article says, pregnancy-induced hypertension was the leading cause of pregnancy-related death for Hispanic women.

The CDC report also shows roughly 3 in 5 pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. But, the health care system fails to listen to diverse population's health concerns and so the maternal mortality rate keeps rising.

According to the Healthy People Final Review, Approximately 25% of all U.S. women do not receive the recommended number of prenatal visits.  This number rises to 32% among African Americans and to 41% among American Indian or Alaska Native women.

An article from the Center for American Progress believes there is little research on what social factors contribute to poor delivery and birth outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native women because of the small population size and racial misclassifications. But they do know these women face many barriers when it comes to getting healthcare.

The National Partnership for Women & Families explains African American women experience more maternal health complications. 

  • African American women are three times more likely to have fibroids than white women. Fibroids are benign tumors that grow in the uterus and can cause postpartum hemorrhaging. Also the fibroids occur at younger ages and grow more quickly for African American women.
  • African American women display signs of preeclampsia earlier in pregnancy than white women. Preeclampsia involves high blood pressure during pregnancy and can lead to severe complications including death if not properly treated.
  • African American women experience physical “weathering,” meaning their bodies age faster than white women’s due to exposure to chronic stress linked to socioeconomic disadvantage and discrimination over the life course, this makes pregnancy riskier at an earlier age.

The CDC report also shows that more than a third of pregnancy-related deaths were due to cardiovascular conditions. Cardiovascular disease is more common among black women and can occur at earlier ages than in white women.

It is very clear that health disparities have a lot to do with racism. Until it is addressed and programs are put in place to combat racism in healthcare, mortality rates will continue to rise.

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Topics: health disparities, Maternal Mortality Rate, maternal health, racism in healthcare, racial health disparities, pregnancy related deaths

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