New book is the first to broadly assess clinical care differences for African Americans
African Americans have the worst medical outcomes of any racial/ethnic group in America including the highest mortality, the longest hospital stays, the worst compliance with medications and referrals and the lowest trust of the healthcare system. Differences in clinical care best practices also exist for African Americans and are occasionally overlooked by providers. And while a number of protocols have been established to address this dramatic difference, including revised cancer screening processes, medication choices and dosages, and other evidence-based approaches, they rarely reach the notice of providers in the community.
The new book Patient-Centered Clinical Care of African Americans, authored by Gregory Hall, MD, director of the Partnership for Urban Health at Cleveland State University, addresses this significant gap by providing, for the first time, a comprehensive review of the specific differences in communication, clinical therapies, medications, protocols and other critical approaches to the care of African Americans. The book also seeks to educate health care providers on the steps that can be taken to better meet the needs of African American patients from initial intake to diagnosis, treatment and follow up.
“Despite the wide-spread acknowledgement of the general existence of health disparities for African Americans, the specific scope of the problem has usually been attributed to poverty or healthcare access, but providers need to know that they can positively influence the quality of their care by having a resource that pulls together the latest clinical recommendations for all African Americans” Hall says. “For example, routine colon cancer screening for African Americans is not at age 50, but five years earlier at age 45, according to current recommendations. How many medical providers for African Americans are unaware of this difference?”
Hall hopes the book, published by Springer Press, will provide a useful reference for providers and health care advocates on the many clinical considerations when treating African American patients. By following clinical “best practices” that are brought together in one book, the quality of healthcare delivery to African Americans will improve.
“If African Americans have the lowest trust of the health care system, then doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners working with these populations need to be aware of this potential bias and properly trained to deal with it effectively, so medical directions are followed, medications are taken and follow up appointments are set,” Hall says. “All of the medical knowledge in the world is useless unless patients trust their provider and believe they are acting in their best interest.”
He also will seek to ensure the book and its findings become part of the regular educational curricula in medical schools, nursing schools and residencies to guarantee that the next generation of providers has a better understanding of the delivery of patient-centered care and its potential to improve a population’s health.