December 15, 2022
Black Americans suffer a disproportionate number of neurological diseases and consequent deaths not because of racial biological differences, but because of racism, human medicine says. A recent article co-authored by a university professor concluded.
“I think a lot of these disparities are the result of a history of racism and discrimination,” he said. Larry Charleston IV, MD, the second author of the study and director of the Department of Headache and Facial Pain at the College of Human Medicine. “If we don’t understand that, we’re doing our profession a disservice, and we’re doing our patients a disservice.”
article, Black patient issues in neurology: race, racism, and race-based neural disparitiesbased on a literature review of previous studies on neurological disease disparities and published in the journal neurology.
A history of racism, rooted in slavery and perpetuated by “discriminatory practices such as unequal drug laws and discriminatory incarceration rates, systemic disenfranchisement, and discriminatory lending practices,” It contributes to what I called the “neural divide.”
“To this day, many neurologists ignore racism as an underlying cause of neurological disorders, further perpetuating the problem,” they wrote.
“Poverty and low socioeconomic status remain the greatest determinants of health, and understanding America’s history of racism is essential to understanding contemporary neurological disparities.”
On average, black Americans have worse outcomes from many neurological conditions, including stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and headaches, the article said.
“Race is really a social construct,” said neurologist Charleston. It’s not race per se. It’s racism. ”
Poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, lack of adequate health insurance and poor access to medical care are all consequences of racism and contribute to worse neurological outcomes, he said. , he cited the red line that pushed many black Americans into low-income urban areas.
“Where are these specialists?” he asked. “Many of them are not in these current and historically redlined areas.”
Black patients are often underrepresented in neurological research, Charleston said, adding, “Black researchers are generally much less likely to be awarded NIH[National Institutes of Health]grants. This is a big problem for many reasons, and one of the keys to academic advancement is research.”
Neurologists should be aware of their implicit biases and work to improve their cultural sensitivities, he said. The authors argue that more underrepresented students need to be recruited and trained.
This article grew out of a conversation between Charleston and the original author of the article, Nathaniel Robbins, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology at Dartmouth-Geisel School of Medicine. Researchers from Harvard Medical School, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and Brooklyn Law School also worked on the literature review.
“It was a collaboration of people who really wanted to make a difference,” Charleston said.
The bottom line, he added, is that racism, not race, causes neurological disparities.
“We are all part of humanity,” he said.