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Black Men’s Life Expectancy Depends on Doctors Like Them

Black Men’s Life Expectancy Depends on Doctors Like Them

By CultureBanx Team

  • Only 4% of U.S. doctors are black

  • African American men live on average 3.6 years less than their counterparts

People are living longer now, though black men still have the shortest life expectancy rate out of any ethnic group. African American men live on average 3.6 years less than their counterparts in other races. Do black male doctors play an important role in keeping men from their communities alive?

Why This Matters: Roughly 13% of the U.S. population is black and only 4% of doctors fall into this ethnic group. The life expectancy numbers for black men are alarming at just 71 years or age, compared to 76 years for white men and 79 years for hispanic men, according to the CDC. A study by the National Bureau for Economic Research found that black male patients were more inclined to consent to preventive care, screenings and vaccinations when their doctor was also black.

Dr. ChaRandle Jordan one of the black doctors who participated in the study told The New York Times “When you go into the room, you have to ask them about themselves, establish a rapport with them,” he said. “If their first reaction is, ‘No, I’m not interested in that,’ you must explore why they said no and address those concerns.”

When assigned to a black doctor the study found 63% of black men agreed to a diabetes screening and 62% were willing to take a cholesterol test. However, on the other end of the spectrum only 43% of black patients agreed to a diabetes test and 36% took the cholesterol screening when assigned to a white or Asian doctor. Researchers estimated the gap in heart related deaths between black men and the rest of the population could be reduced by 20% it the general population took these tests at the same rate.

Situational Awareness: In a separate study focused on non-verbal communication, African American men who saw black doctors wrote comments like, “The entire day made me feel very comfortable and relaxed” and “cool doctor.” These comments show black men are looking for more of an emotional connection with their physicians.

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