According to most analyses, Black patients don’t do as well as White patients when it comes to health measures due to socioeconomic disparities, but researchers are finding that in situations where these injustices and social imbalances do not exist, the scales shift.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs conducted research that reveals the effects of the health system’s lack of equal access among Black and White patients. While this lack of access usually means a higher mortality rate for Black patients, data from an analysis of 3.1 million people showed that Black patients do medically better than Whites when they get the same healthcare. In fact, Black people have a 24 percent lower mortality rate than Whites with an equal playing field, Circulation reports.
Although members of the Black community tend to be at higher risk for health complications and conditions, this information shows that Blacks have a longer life-span because of genetic and biological advantages.
“We thought we were going to show they do the same if the same care is offered to both groups,” said senior author Dr. Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, a nephrologist and epidemiologist at UC Irvine. “But we found blacks do even better.”
Kalantar-Zedah called the situation a “paradox within a paradox.”
U.S. researchers found no racial difference in the rate of strokes for both groups, but did identify that 37 percent of African-American men and women were less likely to get heart disease than White people. However, the genetic leverage of Black patients is voided by the resources afforded to many White patients, due to differences in demographic and access. In the meantime, it’s already been established that Black patients live longer with kidney disease than White patients. Also, care for kidney disease is not affected by the racial divide as much, because the government covers dialysis for all who need it.
To juxtapose the VA findings, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Societyalso conducted research on 5,000 people. The study found that the death rate was 42 percent higher for Blacks than Whites. Health professionals Dr. Nakela Cook and Dr. George Mensah of the National Institutes of Health reported that the gap revealed by the VA system could also show that diet, exercise, and other access and wellness factors play a role.
The VA health systems provide healthcare to all patients, but the ways the treatment is offered could vary due to differences in race.