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Black and Hispanic or Latinx individuals in the United States are twice as likely as white individuals to say their access to COVID-19 treatments, vaccines and health care is worse than other racial or ethnic groups, an online poll found.
The Harris Poll conducted a nationally representative online survey of U.S. adults, which also showed that 67% of Hispanic or Latinx, 59% of white and 58% of Black Americans reported skipping or delaying in-person health care because of the pandemic.
“We need to engage people not only to get vaccinated, but also to get their routine health care,”Harvey W. Kaufman, MD, senior medical director and head of the health trends research program for Quest Diagnostics, told Healio. The poll was conducted on behalf of Quest.
“There are people who are missing their mammograms, colonoscopies, lab tests and vaccinations,” Kaufman said. “By skipping these health care services for now and hoping things are going to be OK, some people won't be diagnosed until a more advanced stage of disease — which means more intensive therapy that will be less effective, and more people will die as a consequence.”
Researchers polled 2,050 adults aged 18 years or older between Nov. 10 and Nov. 12. Participants included 337 Hispanic or Latinx, 265 Black and 1,278 white U.S. adults. Researchers weighted poll data for sex, age, region, education, household size, marital status and household income by race or ethnicity to properly represent proportions across the population.
Poll results showed that 22% of Black, 19% of Hispanic or Latinx and 10% of white individuals said their access to advanced COVID-19 treatments or therapies is worse than members of other racial groups. Additionally, 15% of Black, 17% of Hispanic or Latinx and 8% of white individuals said their access to diagnostic testing for the virus is worse than other racial groups.
Previous research has shown that ethnic minorities are at a higher risk for COVID-19, and that Black and Hispanic patients with rheumatic disease and COVID-19 are more likely to require hospitalization than white patients.
Kaufman said the survey results for COVID-19 parallel health care access disparities in general and that public health messaging should encourage individuals that routine health care during the pandemic is “the best thing for them.”
“Health care professionals get it — they know how to make an environment safe,” he said. “We need to address those fears with fact.”