Study Finds Widespread Discrimination Against Older Black Adults With Chronic Disease

A new study led by Amani Nuru-Jeter, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, finds that one of five elderly patients with chronic disease reported that they had experienced discrimination by health care providers.

The study involved biannual surveys of nearly 14,000 individuals over the age of 54 from 2008 to 2014. The participants had experienced at least one of the following conditions: hypertension, diabetes, cancer, lung disease or stroke.

The results showed that Black, White, and Hispanic adults all reported high rates of discrimination. Blacks reported that they perceived their race as the most common factor in the discrimination they faced. For Whites, age was the most cited factor. In 2008, 27 percent of Blacks reported that they had experienced discrimination. By 2014, the percentage declined to 20 percent. For Whites, the percentage who reported discrimination remained constant at 17 percent during the 2008-to-2014 period.

“In previous studies, Blacks’ reports of discrimination actually increased as wealth increased,” said Dr. Nuru-Jeter. “This finding is useful for continued efforts to improve health care experiences and suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach will not suffice.”

Dr. Nuru-Jeter joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in 2005. She is a graduate of University of Maryland, college Park. She earned a master of public health degree from George Washington University and a Ph.D. in health policy and management from Johns Hopkins University.

The full study, “Trends for Reported Discrimination in Health Care in a National Sample of Older Adults with Chronic Conditions,” was published on the website of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. It may be accessed here.

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