As discrimination and disparities continue to negatively affect Black women’s health, some search for same-race doctors to administer care.
Awareness of ongoing disparities and racism in the U.S. medical system is on the rise. The systemic problem is especially prominent in maternal health care, which has prompted some Black women to actively seek Black doctors and ob-gyns for more culturally competent care, according to NPR, Kaiser Health and Miami’s WLRN.
Black Patient-doctor matchmaking sites abound, including Black Doctors of South Florida, BlackDoctor.org and BlackWomenPhysicians.org. Many are the result of on-the-ground advocacy efforts working to address a continuing problem in the way Black women are treated when accessing essential and lifesaving care.
Numerous studies show that racism, discrimination and unconscious bias generate substandard care for racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. For example, Black women are regularly undertreated and referred less frequently for specialty care than white women. In addition, American Black women are three times more likely than their white counterparts to die after giving birth.
Advocates stress that shared culture and values between patients and providers can provide a sense of safety, validation and trust in light of America’s history of medical discrimination and unethical practices. For these reasons, some African-Americans have expressed their preference for Black providers—who are few in number––a challenge many of these website directories are seeking to address.
That said, experts suggest that ensuring equitable health care for all will take much more than matching patients and providers by race. Medical schools must make systemic changes that support doctors’ respectful treatment of patients regardless of their race, culture or background.
“The golden rule says do unto others as you would have them do unto you, so that the heart of a doctor needs to be that kind of heart where you are taking care of folks the way you would want to be treated or want your family treated,” said Nelson Adams, MD, a Black ob-gyn at Jackson North Medical Center in North Miami, who talked to reporters for the story.
Besides the continued recruitment of Black men and women to med schools, institutions must implement training that sensitizes students to racist viewpoints in medicine and issues faced by certain groups. There is also a growing movement in schools across the country to teach medical students to communicate with patients in ways that build good doctor-patient relationships.
To learn more about how antiracism training can improve health care outcomes across medical disciplines, see “How Black Pharmacists Are Closing the Cultural Gap in Health Care.”