Hi, it’s Dr. Curry-Winchell, or Dr. BCW for short; I recently discussed addressing healthcare disparities in children of color with NBC News. After that conversation, I wanted to take the time to discuss these disparities in a little more detail. There have been a couple of new studies that have once again exposed these long-existing issues. For some, these might be new ideas, but for many, these unsettling realities are all to understood.
Understanding the Disparities
According to new research, children of color receive lower-quality healthcare compared to their white counterparts. This inequality manifests in various ways, including LESS frequent use of diagnostic imaging and pain medication, longer ER wait times, and higher rates of complications during and after surgery. If you are interested in reading about these you can visit these websites:
Root Causes of These Disparities
The reasons behind these disparities are complex, involving socioeconomic factors, geographical limitations, and underfunding in hospitals serving communities of color. Additionally, medical mistrust and bias play significant roles in perpetuating these inequities. Black Americans have faced these issues for a long time. Many of the biases we face are rooted in mis-held beliefs from generations past, that have continued to get propagated through societal norms, institutional practices, oral and written histories, and just our general culture. This is why many people to this day believe that black people have thicker skin or feel less pain. And it is these believes that lead to mistreatment like inadequate pain management from doctors.
Empowering Parents and Caregivers
As a parent or caregiver, it’s essential to actively advocate for your child’s health. Ensure that healthcare providers are accessible and willing to address your concerns promptly. It’s ok to ask direct questions about the diagnosis process and understand the rationale behind the treatment plan. In fact its a critical part of maintaining a healthy dialog with the provider to make sure you are heard. This approach not only empowers you with knowledge but also helps in determining if your healthcare provider is culturally competent and truly listening to your concerns.
Bridging the Gap
Closing this gap requires a collective effort. Health education and literacy are key. Understanding what quality healthcare should look like and knowing the right questions to ask can make a substantial difference. Also, acknowledging the data showing disproportionate disease rates in specific groups is critical in justifying and highlighting the ongoing issue. Finally we need to all acknowledge that bias, both conscious and unconscious are real influences on our behaviors and that these influences are having a detrimental impact on non-white people in the US. We need to get past the misconception of “I don’t see color” acknowledge that we all do and look at ourselves and those around us and think about what those observations are doing to our decision making.
I urge parents to persistently seek the best care possible. If the care received doesn’t meet your expectations or needs, don’t hesitate to explore other options. Remember, your health and that of your family is invaluable, and you have the right to the highest quality of care.
In closing, I thank NBC News for the highlighting this this vital issue. As we continue to work towards eliminating these disparities, remember to advocate for and prioritize your family’s health.
Stay informed and prioritize your health! – Dr. Curry-Winchell (Dr. BCW)
To see the Dr. BCW / Dr. Curry-Winchell interview on Addressing Healthcare Disparities in Children of Color: visit this link