Conference Examines Possible Solutions for Minority Health Care Disparities
Health care providers and executives from New York and across the country gathered for the two-day Institute for Healthcare Disparities conference at Nassau University Medical Center, which ended on Saturday and examined possible solutions for addressing health care disparities some minority communities face, the Long Island Newsday reports.
Bioethicist Harriet Washington, the keynote speaker of the conference, said current research has found that disparities similar to ones that for decades prevented blacks from being treated in the same facilities as whites still persist. For example, prescription-level painkillers often are not stocked at pharmacies in black neighborhoods, she said.
To address some of the disparities, Aloysius Cuyjet, NUMC's chair of medicine and director of the medical center's disparities institute, recommended the use of electronic health monitoring to allow patients to routinely report diagnostic test results. Such a program is expected to become available sometime this year, Cuyjet said (Ricks, Long Island Newsday, 4/19).
Kidney Disease Study
Black kidney disease patients treated in the Veterans Administration medical system appear to live longer than whites with the condition, according to a study released at the conference, Newsday reports. For the study, researcher Csaba Kovesdy studied 298 black and 945 white male patients with moderate to advanced chronic kidney disease. The participants were receiving care in the VA system -- meaning that the standard of care among patients was essentially equal -- according to Newsday. Researchers statistically weighted the results to equalize the smaller number of black participants.
According to Kovesdy, even though women and patients whose race could not be determined were excluded from the study, its findings are important because they indicate a phenomenon that scientists have never before detected. "These survival discrepancies are quite different from what is seen in the general population, where black Americans typically experience higher mortality and lower life expectancy than whites," Kovesdy said, adding, "More research is needed to explain these differences and to alleviate the racial and ethnic discrepancies in health outcomes in the United States."
The study's findings counter a long-held belief by some experts that whites typically receive advantages in health care, Newsday reports. Other researchers have raised concerns about the study's lack of inclusion of data about women and other racial groups. "The conclusion they've drawn is that black males live longer because you can't really extrapolate that data to women," Cuyjet said (Ricks, Long Island Newsday, 4/16).
An abstract of the study is available online.