Mortality Rates for Some Black Men More Than Double Those for White Men, Study Finds
The mortality rate for black men ages 45 to 54 is more than twice the rate for white men in the same age group, according to a study by former Surgeon General David Satcher, the AP/Detroit Free Press reports. The study, published in the March/April issue of the journal Health Affairs, found that in 2000 there were 1,060 deaths for every 100,000 black men ages 45 to 54, compared to 503 deaths for every 100,000 white men in the same age group. Although mortality rates for both races were lower than they were in 1960 -- 1,625 per 100,000 for blacks and 932 for whites -- the gap between the races remains significant, the study stated.
Satcher said that the gap has persisted in part because improvements in access to health care services generally have not included black men unless they were older or disabled. In addition, the disparity was affected by relatively low incomes, a larger proportion of gun-related and AIDS-related deaths, and higher rates of heart disease and diabetes among black residents, Satcher said. Satcher estimated that elimination of the racial gap in death rates for middle aged men would prevent 83,570 deaths annually.
Mortality rates for black infants improved substantially, with deaths per 100,000 black males younger than age 12 months decreasing from 5,307 in 1960 to 1,653 in 2000. The mortality rate for whites of the same age decreased from 2,694 per 100,000 in 1960 to 656 in 2000.
The mortality rate for black female infants decreased from 4,162 per 100,000 in 1960 to 1,363 in 2000, while the rate for white female infants decreased from 2,088 per 100,000 in 1960 to 530 in 2000. The study is available online.
David Williams of the University of Michigan and Pamela Braboy Jackson of Indiana University wrote in a separate paper also published in Health Affairs that social factors for the gap in mortality rates also include neighborhood quality, residential segregation, education, income and health practices (Schmid, AP/Detroit Free Press, 3/10). The paper is available online.
In related news, aides to leading Democratic and Republican legislators said a bipartisan effort to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care is expected, CongressDaily reports. Dean Rosen, health policy director for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), said, "[T]here are many, many more areas that we agree on than we disagree on."
Dora Hughes, deputy director for health for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), said the two parties' growing competition over minority voters means the issue likely will gain in importance. "Members of Congress are going to have to address those constituencies," Hughes said (CongressDaily, 3/10).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Wednesday reported on the racial disparities research. The segment includes comments from Patricia Hassett, vice president and chief of staff for Aetna; Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and Satcher (Jones, "All Things Considered," NPR, 3/9). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. In addition, PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on Wednesday included an interview with Dr. Adewale Troutman, who helped write the Satcher study and director of the Louisville Metro Health Department, about the study (Suarez, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 3/9). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.