Black Men Less Likely To Seek Preventive Medical Care

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Black menin Jacksonville, Fla., are less likely than white men to havea primary care physician or health insurance, according to a recent report bythe Duval County Health Department, the Florida Times-Union reports. According to the report,28% of black men in the city do not have a primary care physician, comparedwith 19% of white men. Twenty percent of black men are uninsured, compared with9% of whites. The study also found that 43% of black men who visited Duval Countyemergency departments in 2005 were uninsured, compared with 36% of white men.

The findings contribute to black men being more likely than white men to die atyounger ages from manageable and treatable diseases such as diabetes, prostatecancer and heart, the Times-Union reports. Wally Smith, aprofessor of medicine and medical director of the Center on Health Disparities at Virginia Commonwealth University, said thatsuch findings have been consistent for decades, adding that having a primarycare physician is an important factor in receiving preventive care. Smith saidthat low-income men are particularly at a disadvantage for receiving preventivecare because they are less likely to qualify for Medicaid.

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County officials will use the findings to develop outreach programs and effortsthat focus on preventive care, Tim Lawther, assistant director of the countyhealth department, said. The efforts -- such as going to neighborhoods thathave a large number of uninsured residents with diabetes to direct them tomedical care -- will begin next month. The county already has a program thatoffers prostate screenings to men who just attended church services. Lawthersaid in that initiative, officials have found that most of the black men areinsured but choose not to seek medical care. He said that black men often donot view routine medical care as a priority.

"If you don't go to a doctor, these things that are perfectly controllablewith medical science are going to kill you," Lawther added (Galnor, FloridaTimes-Union, 6/23).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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