Health Policy & Advocacy
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
Hospitals: One Reason COVID Is More Lethal for Black AmericansU.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Challenge to Affordable Care ActHow Secure Is Your Health or Fitness App?Doctors May Be Overprescribing Opioids After SurgeriesMost Editors at Leading Medical Journals Are White, Study FindsAHA News: Why Everyone Should Care About Health Disparities – And What to Do About ThemUS to Send 500 Million COVID Vaccine Doses to Countries Desperate for ShotsThink You Can Skip That Annual Physical?  Think AgainYour Doctor Appointments Might Look Different Post-PandemicU.S. Blood Supply Is Safe From Coronavirus, Study FindsThink You Can Spot Fake News? Many Can'tTelehealth Is Growing in Use, Acceptance Among Americans: PollAHA News: Deep Disparities Persist in Who Gets Exposed to Secondhand SmokeMany Pre-Surgery Tests Are Useless, So Why Are Hospitals Still Using Them?U.S. Officials Say 50% of American Adults Are Now Fully VaccinatedMore Pot-Linked Poisoning Cases as Edibles' Popularity BoomsU.S. Issues Tough Travel Warnings for Japan Ahead of OlympicsScience Studies Most Likely to Be Wrong Are the Most Widely ReadFully Vaccinated Travelers Can Soon Visit EU CountriesAHA News: Research Into Asian American Health Doesn't Always Reflect Their DiversityIt's Still Tough to Find Prices on Most U.S. Hospital WebsitesGet First Colonoscopy at 45, not 50: U.S. Expert PanelMagnets in Cellphones, Smartwatches Might Affect Pacemakers, FDA WarnsAHA News: These 'Concrete Steps' Could Help Fight Racism in Health CareFear of Losing Health Insurance Keeps 1 in 6 U.S. Workers in Their JobsWhen Drug Companies Raise Prices, Patients' Out-of-Pocket Costs RiseMost Top U.S. Surgeons Are White and That's Not ChangingAmericans Missed Almost 10 Million Cancer Screenings During PandemicU.S. Birth Rates Continue to FallBiden Sets New Goal of Vaccinating 70% of Americans by July 41 in 3 Neighborhoods in Major U.S. Cities Is a 'Pharmacy Desert'You Got Your COVID Shot: What to Do With That Vaccine CardFinding a Doctor Is Tough and Getting Tougher in Rural AmericaUrgent Care or the ER? Which Should You Choose?FDA Poised to Ban Menthol CigarettesPoll Reveals Who's Most Vaccine-Hesitant in America and WhyAHA News: Food, Culture and the Secret Ingredient to Address Lack of Diversity in Nutrition FieldCDC Decision on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause Expected FridayAHA News: How to Make Sure Everyone Gets a Fair Shot at the COVID-19 VaccineLittle Progress in Boosting Numbers of Black American DoctorsHigh-Profile Police Brutality Cases Harm Black Americans' Mental Health: StudyAHA News: Could the Pandemic Help Boost Diversity in Clinical Trials?Americans Still Avoiding ERs in Pandemic, But Uptick Seen in Mental Health CrisesCDC Panel Says It Needs More Time to Study J&J Vaccine Clotting CasesAHA News: 5 Things to Know This Earth Day About How the Environment Affects Health4 in 10 Adults Over 50 Consult Online Reviews When Picking a DoctorCBD or THC? Cannabis Product Labels Often Mislead, Study FindsPandemic Has Put Many Clinical Trials on HoldDespite Pandemic's Toll, Many Older Adults Don't Have Living Wills'Heart-in-a-Box' Can Be Lifesaving, Matching Up Distant Donors With Patients
Questions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Health Insurance
Healthcare

AHA News: These 'Concrete Steps' Could Help Fight Racism in Health Care

HealthDay News
by American Heart Association News
Updated: May 12th 2021

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, May 12, 2021 (American Heart Association News) -- Doctors, hospitals and medical schools should take specific actions to fight the structural racism that threatens the health of millions of Americans, according to a new report meant to help guide the medical establishment.

Among the recommendations, which are part of the 2020 American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Consensus Conference on Professionalism and Ethics report:

  • Medical schools should require first-year students to take a course on social justice, race and racism, and trainees should spend time immersed in the communities they serve.
  • Education about national, local and institutional history related to race and racism should be a part of medical school curriculums and continuing education programs.
  • Health care entities should conduct annual reviews that ask, "How is racism operating here?"

It's all part of a broader report, published simultaneously Tuesday in the AHA's journal Circulation and in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The report offers guidance for medical schools, physicians and other health care professionals.

It follows statements from several professional societies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that acknowledge how racism threatens public health. But the report does more than just note the problem, said Dr. Camara P. Jones, who co-wrote the section on social justice and racism.

"These are concrete action steps that can equip people who are trying to move to action to know what we do first," said Jones, a family physician, epidemiologist and past president of the American Public Health Association.

Most aspects of a person's health are determined by factors outside of a health care setting, she said. Our health is "created by the conditions of our lives – by schooling, and by housing, and by access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and by living in a clean environment, and by income and wealth." In America, racism heavily influences all those conditions.

Dr. Willie E. Lawrence Jr., a cardiologist and co-chair of the task force that wrote the recommendations, said addressing racism is crucial to addressing all kinds of health problems, such as high blood pressure.

"If it is your goal as a medical institution to train physicians to provide better care to a broad range of people, then one of the things that you have to recognize is that it's not just what you learn in your pharmacology class that's going to lead to better management of hypertension," said Lawrence, medical director for health equity at Spectrum Health in Michigan.

Factors such as the ones Jones listed, known as the social determinants of health, "may have a bigger impact on whether you get that patient's blood pressure controlled, whether you get that patient to actually take that pill."

Building community is one of the cornerstones of fighting racism, Jones said, which is why getting medical trainees to do home visits or work in community settings is essential.

Lawrence agreed, saying doctors need to know how to reach patients where they are. That applies to medical professionals of all backgrounds, and he used himself as an example.

Lawrence, who was raised mostly in a single-parent home on the east side of Cleveland before attending Harvard University and training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said it can be easy for any well-off doctor to overlook the challenges of being poor, when something as simple as a $4 co-pay for a medication can put it out of reach.

There can be "an assumption that somehow because I'm Black, I automatically understand my poor Black patients," he said. "Well, that's not necessarily a safe assumption. Because the fact is, there are some things I was never taught in medical school."

He didn't learn about the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study until he was well into adulthood, for example, and was never taught about the history of discrimination against Asian Americans.

The knowledge of such things, he said, "makes us more compassionate. And I think it makes us better physicians."

That's the idea, Jones said.

The report's recommendation to require history lessons, she said, came out of work she did recently that proved to be "revelatory" for the schools and hospital systems that took part. For the participants, knowing the history of their workplaces – how the location was chosen, who wasn't allowed as patients, or who was or wasn't allowed as physicians – "opened their eyes" to how racism works.

She and Lawrence acknowledged the challenges ahead.

"I think that race is a very difficult subject to talk about," Lawrence said. "And if you want to quiet down a room, you walk in and you start talking about some issue related to race. It's uncomfortable."

But the recommendations are not radical, he said. They would have "a significant impact" on medical school curriculum. But at their core, they want to foster the idea of allyship – working in partnership with people who are enduring structural racism or other systemic discrimination – and a greater understanding of patients.

"They're not really lofty goals," he said. "They're basic goals related to achieving health equity."

To succeed, Jones said, it will require support from and training for all levels of the medical establishment. "Because we certainly don't want the next generation to grow up still ill-equipped to deal with these broader issues" or to lack the understanding that anti-racism is a core part of their work as physicians.

"So what I'm saying is, we are all planting seeds" that eventually will bear fruit within the world of health care and throughout society, she said. "This is not the end of the story. This is the beginning."

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

By Michael Merschel




Facebook

Amazon Smile

 

Children and Adult services are available now with no wait time.  

Please contact HBH at 860-548-0101, option 2.

 


powered by centersite dot net