Skip to Content

Neurology Study Reveals What We Already Know: People of Color Get Worse Healthcare

Maybe one day we’ll spend more energy addressing racism instead of continuing to prove it exists

We don’t need more studies showing that there are racial health inequities. We already know they exist. The authors of this study assert that this study is groundbreaking because it’s the first “nationwide stud[y] examin[ing] disparities in the use of neurologic care for people with a broad range of neurologic conditions.”

Why would there be any reason to think that this data would be any different than the hundreds of similar studies about race and medicine that have been done before? Furthermore, when it comes to naysayers, why would one more study help them understand if the hundreds of studies before didn’t in the first place?

Instead of spending precious resources on re-proving what we already know, we should be spending it on trying to address the problem. In fact, implementing projects to close these racial inequities are quite difficult. While many attempts frequently improve outcomes overall, they do not impact the gap at all. Some even act to increase the disparity.

For example, we know that colonoscopy rates are lower amongst people of color. One intervention to try to address this is to send electronic messages or letters to patients reminding them when they are due for colon cancer screening. The problem with this is that it doesn’t help my patients who don’t speak English and don’t have access to the internet. At the same time, my white patients will find this useful at a much higher rate. While the intervention might improve colonoscopy rates across both groups, it will improve it more in the white group, thus actually making the disparity larger.

Addressing health inequity is not an easy task. Research is supposed to help us solve problems that we don’t know how to fix not tell us stuff we already know. We would be better off spending research time and money on finding solutions as opposed to “rediscovering” the same problem over and over again.

story | by Dr. Radut