New study highlights unique health needs of African-Americans

AmNews Staff Reports | 8/24/2018, 11 a.m.
African-Americans express more motivation to pursue a healthier lifestyle than non-African-Americans, yet are less likely to describe themselves as being ...
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African-Americans express more motivation to pursue a healthier lifestyle than non-African-Americans, yet are less likely to describe themselves as being in good health, according to recent findings from the African-American Health Engagement Study, a collaboration of Pfizer, the National Medical Association and the National Black Nurses Association. The AAHES study examines the health attitudes and behaviors of African-Americans and reveals important health-related cultural differences compared with non-African-American respondent groups. Areas of focus in the study include spiritual health relative to other dimensions of health, awareness of and attitudes toward clinical trial participation, perception of state of health and level of motivation to take action on health.

The AAHES research, which commenced in 2017, is designed to garner insights that could inform meaningful and effective actions to increase health equity in African-American communities. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans face a greater risk of death at almost every stage of life compared with other American racial and ethnic groups, and African-Americans overall have a life expectancy more than three years shorter than that of non-African-Americans.

“Our mission is to ensure access to the highest quality of health care for persons of color,” said Eric J. Williams, DNP, RN, CNE, FAAN, president of the National Black Nurses Association. “Our participation in the study helps us better understand health attitudes and behaviors of African-Americans. Through our partnership with Pfizer and the National Medical Association, we are working to develop a sustainable plan of action that will make an impact on critical disparities that affect the health of our community.”

Key findings of the AAHES study include the following:

• 84 percent of African-American study participants described themselves as “highly motivated to improve overall health,” compared with 76 percent of non-African American participants, and 75 percent of African-American respondents claimed to be taking some action to stay healthy, compared with only 52 percent of non-African American respondents;

• 67 percent of African Americans surveyed agreed with the statement “I will do better on my health tomorrow,” compared with 53 percent of non-African Americans surveyed;

• 36 percent of all African-American study participants ranked their overall health (including physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual health) as “very good” or “excellent,” compared with 43 percent of study participants in other groups;

• 79 percent of African-American study participants viewed spiritual health as extremely or very important to overall health and wellness, compared to 59 percent of non-African American participants, and 45 percent of African Americans reported being satisfied with their body regardless of weight, compared with 36 percent of respondents in othergroups;

• 87 percent of African-American participants believe African-Americans are not well represented in clinical trials, but only 33 percent of African-American women and 41 percent of African-American men stated that they are willing to enroll in a trial if it means changing or starting medication.

When it comes to trusted sources of health and medical information, African-American respondents said that they place their highest level of trust in medical organizations focused on African-Americans. African-Americans’ least trusted sources for health-related information are widely used media channels, such as cable news and commercial broadcast networks. Doris Browne, M.D. president of the National Medical Association, said, “As the collective voice for African-American physicians and the leading voice for parity and justice in medicine and increasing health equity, the National Medical Association, in alliance with the National Black Nurses Association and Pfizer, will work together to address the underlying causes of health inequity with greater creativity, innovation, and precision.”