Health Disparities in the Black Community Persist, So What Can YOU Do?

black woman

Black Doctors Ohio was founded based upon the known health disparities that continue to exist in the African-American community overall. Health disparities refers to “differences in the health status of different groups of people”, as defined by MedlinePlus. Many of us have read the statistics about several health conditions that African-Americans tend to have at higher rates than other races. In some cases, it’s an increased rate of death or severity of disease. There are so many factors that are known causes for these disparities which has proven to create challenges in affecting change on a large scale. And although research indicates African-Americans are living longer, health disparities remain. So what can you do?

1.  Knowing the facts is a good place to begin. Everyone needs to take charge of their own health and be aware of risk factors, known patterns in health conditions that could affect you, your family history, and preventive steps you need to take like getting screenings and annual physicals to increase your chances of staying healthy.

2. Find a trusted doctor and ask questions. As we talked about in a prior post, there are known benefits for black patients to see a black doctor, in some part based upon the cultural connection and comfort level of being able to have someone treat you that would better relate to your needs. And research has found that racial bias in medicine leads to worse care for minorities. However, the important thing is you find a doctor, regardless of their race, that serves your needs and benefits your overall health, providing an on-going consistent relationship that brings you guidance and informed care. It is also very important that you are proactive in asking your doctor questions to be sure you understand the decisions they have made for your health care (ex: Do you know if this care is specific to African-American tendencies, What are the risk factors of taking the prescribed medication, etc.)

black man and woman exercising

3. Choose to live a healthy lifestyle. We all have to decide every day if we are going to make the right choice for our health. It is a challenge for us all, but putting your health first on a consistent basis just by setting your mind on a few lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in maintaining a healthy life. As most of us know, eating healthy and exercising are the common lifestyle choices that can positively affect our health. But some other factors that some people don’t take seriously enough are not smoking or using tobacco, practicing safe sex, protecting your skin from the sun (Black Don’t Crack, but You Can Still Get Skin Cancer), and limit alcohol intake and drink responsibly.

4. Advocate for the issues that need to be addressed. Again, there are many factors as to why health disparities continue to plague the African-American community, and the more involved we are in taking steps within our own communities to help combat these factors, the closer we can get to eliminating the issues. Learn what the disparities are, what has been determined as the possible solutions for the elimination of these disparities and take action where you can. If we aren’t going to fight for our health, than why would anyone else?

5. Teach your children to live a healthy lifestyle. Our children are the future and if we don’t teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle by example, then the patterns of bad health could continue to persist from generation to generation. Lead by example, educate them and give them the guidance they need that will increase their likelihood of living healthy lifestyles and passing on those habits to their children.

black dad and son arm wrestling

Although we know genes and other factors such as income and health insurance coverage can all play a part in being and staying healthy, a large part of achieving success in this area of your life is based upon your personal choices, persistence and commitment to preventive care (i.e., getting screenings, annual physicals, and seeing a doctor when you have consistent symptoms), and ensuring you are keeping your stress level down through a balanced life. Be aware of the possible health conditions that tend to affect a higher percentage of African-Americans so you can be informed and understand steps you can take to decrease your chances of having those issues and get the screenings/testing done to stay on top of your health status. Ask your doctor questions and make sure they are providing you with culturally specific facts as there are several aspects of the African-American race that differ from other cultures (ex: blood pressure rates, BMI, etc).

We hope you enjoyed this post and learned something that could help you or someone you know. We post new content weekly so stay connected! Until then, we love to hear from you so feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic above. What do you think could be done to combat some of the racial health disparities? Visit and like/follow our social media pages (Facebook & Twitter) with more information supporting the cause of keeping the black community healthy and informed!

 

Black Doctors Ohio provides resources to connect the community with African-American health care professionals and other health care services.
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Author: Black Doctors Ohio

Black Doctors Ohio provides resources to connect the community with African-American health care professionals and other health care services.

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