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People are wondering why of all the ethnic groups in the country, African Americans have the lowest life expectancy. Health issues like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke are said to be the causes.

Still, it doesn’t make sense considering the diseases mentioned can be prevented and treated. CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez inferred that the issue might have something to do with diversity.

According to general practitioner, Dr. Clenton Coleman, “African Americans make up almost 15 percent of the population, but only four percent are doctors. Sixty-six percent by the age of 50 are at risk for high blood pressure. Compared to the general population, about 33 percent and across the board, diabetes, heart disease, cancer that applies and these are all preventative diseases.”

Coleman statements refer to a National Bureau for Economic Research study of 700 black men in California, who went to a clinic for free health screenings.

According to the study, the subjects were randomly assigned to a black, a white, and an Asian male doctor. When asked to return for follow-up screenings, particularly for a cholesterol test, 62 percent of black men assigned to a black doctor agreed. On the other hand, only 36 percent of the men who were attended to by a non-black doctor agreed. Requests for additional screening for diabetes yielded identical results.

Dr. Coleman offered an explanation. “The basic doctor-patient relationship is built on trust, so there’s a rapport that’s involved… so if they’re more comfortable with their doctor they’re more likely to engage in preventative screening.”

Experts now share the view that genetics, environment, and responses to medications may all be responsible for this occurrence. Nonetheless, they all contend that the risk factors can be minimized. Dr. Donna Mendes of Mt. Sinai said, “You can change smoking, you can lose weight so your blood pressure goes down so that your cholesterol improves. These things are modifiable.”

Medical schools have been busy of late in admitting more minority students from both genders. What they want in due course is for patients to see a doctor who resembles them and are trustworthy. More hospitals are beginning to recognize the need for culturally sensitive care. Outreach for educational purposes will be conducted to establish a deeper connection with all populations.

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