Qualms about health system lead black men to delay checkups

Black males delay routine checkups, because they are wary of the healthcare system, according to a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. This distrust is especially apparent among older African American men.

Perhaps the 1972 revelation of a 40-year U.S. Public Health study in which hundreds of black men were not told they had syphilis and then not treated for it even after penicillin became the standard cure, according to a 2002 NPR article, may explain why older black men are leery of the healthcare system.

According to the study, men who really mistrusted the medical system were more than twice as likely to put off regular check-ups and cholesterol screenings and three times more likely to delay blood pressure checks than their peers who were more trusting, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said.
But findings also suggest how healthcare providers could spur black males to consider getting blood pressure and cholesterol level tests by appealing to their sense of self reliance. Lead author Wizdom Powell Hammond, an assistant professor of health behavior and health education at UNC, noted that such using such preventive services is considered a way to show masculinity.

The findings came from a survey of more than 600 black men, ages 20 and older, from different regions of the U.S.

To learn more:
- here's the abstract from the Journal of General Internal Medicine
- read the HealthDay News story
- here's NPR's story from July 2002 on the notorious syphilis study

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