Racial Bias in Healthcare
By Mellanie Ayala-Luna, Mansi Choudhari, Raseel Jazairi, Isabel Kleinpeter
There are a variety of factors that impact the incident of racial bias in healthcare, a significant and ongoing issue that has been documented in various forms. Our playlist selection will focus on the major sources of racial bias and its negative impact on patient care. Racial bias refers to the differential treatment of patients based on their race or ethnicity, resulting in disparities in health outcomes. Racial bias can manifest in different ways, including implicit biases, stereotypes, and structural racism. Studies have shown that people of color are less likely to receive appropriate treatment and medications for certain medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. They are instead deemed “responsible” for their illness, with racial bias resulting in disparity in their quality of care. This directly impacts the patient-physician relationship, and how it is compromised with mistrust and dissatisfaction. Patients of color may feel marginalized, disrespected, or discriminated against by healthcare providers, which can result in lower adherence to treatment and poorer health outcomes.
Mentally, this often repeated discrimination, prejudice, and bias in healthcare takes a toll on patients, causing distress, anxiety, and feelings of mistrust within clinical settings. Outside of the hospital setting, racial bias in clinical trials is a significant issue that has historically excluded people of color from participating in medical research studies, leading to a lack of diversity in clinical trial populations. This exclusion has resulted in limited data on the safety and effectiveness of medical treatments for people of color, which can perpetuate health disparities. Overall, health disparities create a wide gap within the patient-provider relationship and worsen the mental health of patients contributing to the issue.
This project aims to amplify the perspectives of North Carolina’s local residents and their encounters with the healthcare system, thereby shedding light on their unique experiences. We first hear from Kesha Neely, who describes the stereotyping of a predominantly black area in Fayetteville, NC, and how its lack of resources originated from historical segregation. Having lived in both Los Angeles, CA and Clinton, NC, African American aerospace administrator Carol Fields details the regional differences in racial tensions and discrimination. Fields also touches on the lack of power people of color have in the healthcare system, especially in certain southern or rural areas. A worker for a food profit, Mary Warren, shares how healthcare workers tend to assume that elderly black individuals in her community will not adhere to lifestyle guidelines, and hence, do not offer any suggestions beyond prescribing medication. Andrea Williams-Morales, a native Mexican who serves as a Communications and Marketing Manager for her community clinic in Dunn, NC, discusses how healthy eating (which contributes to health conditions in her patients) is not as simplistic as doctors make it out to be. We also hear how practitioners in the healthcare field were impacted by discrimination through Treston Clark La-Rue. Lata Chatterjeeis, a former professor of Geography and Environmental Engineering, shares her childhood in India and explains the friction that came with dealing with the healthcare system as an immigrant and someone of low socioeconomic status battling the costs of medical care. We close off with Jacqui Laukaitis, a healthcare worker from South Chile. She describes her experiences working in an Open Door clinic and was able to see firsthand, the contrast between the treatment of white patients with the treatment of colored patients, she elaborates on contrasts in the navigation of the healthcare system for non-white vs white patients and calls for further advocacy of patients that get overlooked and mistreated because of race.