How Race and Ethnicity Impact Health Outcomes

More than forty percent of Americans are people of color. And they face higher rates of chronic diseases including diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, and cancer than whites.

For example, Black people have a 77% higher risk of diabetes, while for Hispanics it’s 66%. Considering these statistics alone (though there are many more) you’d think these populations would be a major focus for medical research.

Instead, people of color only make up about 5% of the participants for drug testing, treatment methods, and medical research. The result is poor efficacy, higher mortality rates, and higher costs.

This is one example of the many disparities in healthcare due to race and ethnicity. And it comes with less preventative care, less accessibility to care, and lower-quality care. Chronic disease has heavy implications for income and earning ability, reducing earning by up to 18% and reducing the chances to afford decent care. People with lower wages already have higher rates of disease, so you can see this perpetuates a dangerous cycle.

Our healthcare system and policies need to change so that all Americans have the ability to access and afford treatments that are effective for their unique needs. I wanted to dig into this topic further and focus on what the solutions look like, so last week on The Doctor’s Farmacy I sat down with Dr. Charles Modlin, Dr. Leonor Osorio, and Tawny Jones from Cleveland Clinic.

They each brought unique experiences and specialties to our conversation.

Dr. Charles Modlin is the Executive Director of Minority Health and founded and directs Cleveland Clinic’s Minority Men’s Health Center. Dr. Leonor Osorio was instrumental in the opening of the Lutheran Hospital Hispanic Clinic, which connects patients to Spanish speaking physicians. And Tawny Jones is an accomplished Administrator, leading clinical operations at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine

We dove into the cascading effects of racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and unconscious bias on minority health and the kinds of programs and resources that are helping to overcome these problems.

Ending social injustice needs to be a foundational part of future healthcare. I hope you’ll listen to this episode and learn more about changing things for the better.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Mark Hyman, MD

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