Nav: Home

Medical mistrust impacts African American men's preventive health, but racism also matters

August 07, 2019

Mistrust of health care providers, fueled by painful experiences with racism, makes African American men more likely to delay routine screenings and doctor's appointments, according to a new study in the journal Behavioral Medicine by the Health Disparities Institute (HDI) at UConn Health, with potentially serious implications for their overall health.

"Medical mistrust is significantly contributing to delays in African American men utilizing the health care system," says Dr. Wizdom Powell, the study's lead author, who is HDI director and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UConn School of Medicine.

The new study reports that "medical mistrust" - defined as a suspicion or lack of trust in medical organizations - is associated with delays in African American men's routine health visits, blood pressure, and cholesterol screenings. It also found that men who report experiencing frequent everyday racism had higher odds of delaying screenings and routine health care visits. Also, those who perceived racism in health care had more medical mistrust with significantly reduced rates of preventive health care utilization.

"We must address medical mistrust and racism in and outside of health care institutions to increase lifesaving preventive health screenings among the high risk population of African American men," says Powell.

The research study analyzed associations between medical mistrust, perceived racism in health care, everyday racism, and preventive health screening delays. The cross-sectional data of 610 African American men aged 20 years and older was pulled from the African American Men's Health and Social Life study, with the majority of participants surveyed recruited from barbershops in Michigan, Georgia, California, and North Carolina, along with some from academic institutional events between 2003-2009.

For many African American men, that mistrust is rooted in personal experiences with prejudice and discrimination.

"Experience with racism in everyday life also appears to chip away at African American men's health care system trust and utilization," Powell says. "Thus, to improve African American men's health and life expectancy, we must also find ways to dismantle structural racism, as doing so is essential to eliminating long-standing health disparities."

While men, no matter their race, are less likely than women to pursue timely medical care, African American men's utilization patterns are even more delayed. Historically, African American men delay preventive health care more often than their white male counterparts, while also reporting higher levels of medical mistrust.

This is especially concerning because African American men's life expectancy at birth is already the shortest of all demographics in the U.S. African American men are at high risk for several conditions including cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. High blood pressure affects African-American men at a higher rate than any other demographic, along with disproportionate rates of obesity and diabetes. Blood pressure, cholesterol, and other routine health screenings can catch these conditions early enough to make treatment effective, but without that early intervention, the risk of heart attack and stroke increases dramatically.

According to Powell, this new study is one of only a few investigations into the role that medical mistrust and racism play in the likelihood of African American men seeking out routine preventive health screenings.

"Our findings underscore that delays in preventive health screenings are not just due to lack of health insurance and access to health care," says Powell. "Medical mistrust is a big factor deterring African American men from seeking care."
-end-


University of Connecticut

Related Science Articles:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.
Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.
Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.
World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.
PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.
More Science News and Science Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.