Top 5 Health Care Challenges Faced by Black Americans



According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, most Black Americans believe health outcomes have improved over the past two decades and their experiences with healthcare have been generally positive. However, there are broad concerns about structural issues in healthcare and disparities in outcomes, such as higher mortality rates from cancer and maternal mortality among Black Americans compared to White Americans. The survey also found that 55% of Black adults had at least one negative interaction with healthcare providers, including having to speak up to receive proper care or feeling their pain was not taken seriously.

Americans’ Perception of Health Outcomes for Black Population

Most Black Americans believe that health outcomes for their demographic have improved over the past two decades, as per a 2021 Pew Research Center survey. However, they express significant concerns about structural issues impacting health care in the U.S, including higher cancer and maternal mortality rates compared to White Americans.

Survey of Black Americans’ Experiences with Health Care

The Pew Research Center conducted an analysis of Black Americans’ attitudes towards health care based on a survey of 14,497 U.S. adults, including 3,546 Black adults. The results indicate that most Black adults have positive recent experiences with the health care system, although experiences vary by income. For instance, 73% of upper-income Black adults described their most recent care as excellent or very good, in contrast to 55% of lower-income Black adults. The majority of Black adults also reported at least one negative interaction with medical providers.

Negative Interactions and Disparities in Care Among Black Americans

Black Americans’ responses indicate that they have had to advocate for their care, with four in ten reporting that they had to speak up to receive adequate care. Additionally, 35% say their pain has not been taken seriously, and 32% say their medical provider has rushed them. Younger Black women, in particular, reported more negative interactions with health care providers.

Health Care Provider Preference Among Black Americans

Interestingly, most Black Americans (64%) expressed no preference for the race of their health care provider. However, 31% preferred a Black provider. This preference was similar irrespective of whether they had visited a Black provider before. Despite this, Black providers are underrepresented in the medical field, which might make it challenging for those preferring Black providers to secure an appointment. Currently, Black doctors comprise only 5% of physicians and surgeons nationwide.

Reasons for Health Disparities Among Black Americans

When asked about the reasons for health disparities among Black Americans, 63% attributed it to less access to quality care. Research supports this view, indicating fewer primary care physicians, trauma centers, pharmacies and COVID-19 vaccination centers in areas predominantly inhabited by Black Americans.

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