Studies Show Black, White Health Gap Still Exists

Recent studies have shown that even though African-Americans are obtaining more advanced degrees, their health outcomes are on average worse than their White counterparts.

A 2017 report from Duke University that analyzed infant mortality found that babies born to Black women with doctorates or professional degrees are approximately three times more likely to die than babies born to White women with only high school diplomas or GEDs.

“Not only does the Black-White disparity for infant mortality exist at all educational levels, it is greatest for those with a master’s degree or higher,” the report said. “Further, the (infant mortality rate) is highest for Black women with a doctorate or professional degree.”

A 2018 report published in Healthcare determined that though “Whites and African-Americans both gain physical health as their income increases, this protective effect of income against (chronic medical conditions) is larger for Whites than African-Americans.”

Another study from April 2018 analyzed employment and health trends from 1986 to 2011 and found that White adults had an increased life expectancy gain through employment than their Black counterparts.

“I’m not sure we have a definite answer of why there is still a persistent difference” between African-Americans and their White counterparts, Dr. Keith Churchwell, senior vice president and executive director of Heart and Vascular Services for Yale New Haven Hospital told US News.

“The question would be, do you have the same access to health care? Do you have the same access to follow-up? Are the medications you are taking for the reduction of your cardiovascular risks as effective as they are for white people?” Churchwell said.

New research shows that racism could be a significant factor in these disparities.

“A lot of us think that chronic worry about being exposed to racism, either that you will be or a loved one will be exposed, that is a very likely contributor to high-education, high-income Blacks having worse health status than their White counterparts,” said Dr. Paula Braveman, professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “What we found in this recent study is … that Black women who said they worried often or very often (about being treated unfairly because of race), they were twice as likely to have a premature baby.”

The research was published in 2017 and included over 10,000 female participants.

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