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1 In 3 Black Californians Report Unequal Treatment In Health Care, Survey Says

A gloved hand injects a COVID vaccine dose into a person's arm.
A man receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Umoja Health pop-up clinic in Oakland.
(Marissa Leshnov for CalMatters)
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Nearly a third of Black Californians surveyed say they are treated unfairly in the health care system because of their race.

The research shows the impact of racism on Black Californians' health care.

What They Said: More than 3,300 Black residents were surveyed by the nonprofit California Health Care Foundation and EVITARUS, a Black-owned research firm. The report found more than one in four Black Californians avoided getting medical care due to worries about unfair or disrespectful treatment, while one in three reported unequal treatment due to their race.

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And When They Go To The Doctor: The majority of respondents said they change behaviors to minimize negative experiences at a doctor’s office.

“Dressing up … altering your speech or other aspects of your identity in order not to appear threatening. Also minimizing questions because you don’t want to appear difficult,” said lead researcher Shakari Byerly.

Health Is A Priority: The majority of Black Californians surveyed said they put extensive effort into getting preventive care, they have health insurance, they track their blood pressure and cholesterol and have seen a doctor in the past year.

What Would Help? Respondents called for mandatory unconscious bias training for medical staff, increased Black representation in health jobs and administration, and expanded community-based education on how to advocate for high-quality care.