Black women in US health care - underpaid, unprotected: Study
A study in Health Affairs highlights the deeply rooted structure of racism against Black women in America.
According to a study published yesterday in Health Affairs, Black women, though comprising the biggest ethnic minority group within the healthcare sector, earn the lowest wages and a large group of them are given the most hazardous jobs within the sector.
The study reveals a discriminatory reality for black women in the US beyond mere verbal racism or simple biases towards the Black community, showing how discrimination is rooted in the system, particularly the workforce.
Against the backdrop of Black History Month, Health Affairs, a medical journal, published a series of studies that examine racism and health.
The study published was produced by the University of Minnesota, which used data points from the American Community Survey that showed that while Black women constitute 7% of the US labor force, they make up 14% of the workforce in healthcare.
About 23% of Black women work in healthcare, and 65% work as licensed practical nurses or in aide occupations, while 40% world in long-term care.
The authors write, "Structural racism in the labor market, linked to historical legacies of slavery and domestic service, has had a strong impact on shaping the health care workforce."
In terms of recommendations, the authors suggested and encouraged raising the wages of the workers, reinforcing more accessible career ladders, and creating more dialogue concerning structural racism in the workforce.
Black patients more likely to have negative descriptors than white
According to a study published on January 19, 2022, in Health Affairs, black patients were more than twice as likely as white patients to have unfavorable descriptions of them in their electronic health files.
The findings paint a grim picture of health care in America as well as the future of racial equality.
Researchers at the University of Chicago examined more than 40,000 notes in the EHRs of more than 18,000 patients at an urban university medical institution, looking for negative descriptors like "resistant," "challenging," or "noncompliant."
Researchers found that even after adjusting for sociodemographic and health variables, black patients were 2.54 times more likely to have negative descriptors.
The authors cite this as being a concern due to the repetitive nature of medical notes. Negative descriptors written in the admission history may subsequently be recommunicated to other doctors and health professionals, further propagating the bias against the patient.