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June 9th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

Study: Racial disparities exist with asthma care

By Leslie Wade
CNN Medical Producer

African American and Hispanic children may not be receiving the same care and treatment for asthma as Caucasian children, even when they have the same access to care.

A study published in this week's medical journal, Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, examined more than 800,000 children who were covered by the same health insurance system provided by the U.S. military. They found the prevalence and severity of asthma were higher in black and Hispanic children than their white peers.

Researchers suspect that  just because patients used the same health plan didn't necessarily mean they were getting the same care. Experts say this may be a result of the differences in the way various ethnic groups utilize the health care system or differences in the treatments received.

"Whether they had the same trust of the system, willingness to access the system, whether the physicians provided the same quality of care, is not clear," says Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, pediatric allergist and immunologist, and adviser for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers found that African Americans and Hispanics were less likely to see specialists, such as a pediatric allergist or pulmonologist, than white children. They say this could be due to a couple of factors, including whether minority families seek referrals, or whether doctors are less likely to offer them to  minorities.

Genetics and environment may also play a role, researchers say. Certain ethnic groups may be more predisposed to asthma than others. Doctors know indoor environments and pollutants can worsen asthma symptoms. And because the study had more blacks and Hispanics living in the south than whites – where there tend to be more indoor pollutants – this may explain some of the differences in health outcomes.

Researchers point out that more than health care insurance coverage is needed to provide care for asthmatic children regardless of their race or ethnicity

"This is an important finding because it tells us something we really didn't know before," says Dr. Thomas Croghan of Georgetown University School of Medicine, one of the study authors. Croghan is also a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.  

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soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. DaveRT

    I think this is written just a little inflamitory. Do they really think military physicians don't treat patients the same because of race??? Do a real study comparing the same physician's practices accross his/her patient population to determine if that is the case before writting "whether the physicians provided the same quality of care".

    June 9, 2010 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. wilyfem

    CNN, please tell me another story about how my race is evil. I just LOVE to hear how white people are the devil and how we hate people that aren't white. I can't get enough of being told that I'm wrong because I'm white. There isn't already enough white hate in this world CNN, so please, keep doing what you are doing. I don't want anyone to know that most white people really aren't racist and that this is just a media perpetuated myth.

    June 9, 2010 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Hephzibah-Ene Anderson

    My daughter had developed asthma from age 1!/2 years old, and it was a devastating situation to see the agony of not able to breathe. The multiple trip to hospital and airflight and 911 calls , ambulance services were the experiences of that time. Thank the Lord I came across the Miracle Tree of life called "Moringa', Filipinos call it Malungguay, English calls it Drumstick, Africans call iit NEBEDAY, and in croele is called BENXOLIVE. This was my miracle. Now after almost 2 years my daughter has been freed of Asthma because of the usage of this plant. Even with exposure to pollutant and allergy , flu, she has been freed of this disease of Asthma.

    June 9, 2010 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rajvir

      thanks for that Lyle, I've been working on hmatsa since I did that animal biosecurity post right as h1n1 broke out. it's unfortunate, but interesting, to see that the two research threads (biosecurity & increases in global hmatsa severity) intertwine. i've forwarded this on to my hmatsa working group. thanks for the heads up!

      March 5, 2012 at 20:16 | Report abuse |
  4. Elena

    That is true..doctor do not always provide the same quality of care to everyone but it is not always due to race. I remember as a child my Mom had a health insurance through her job that automatically choose you Primary Care Doctor. The "doctor" we ended up with did not like our insurance company (in his words it took to long for the provider to pay claims) so any time anyone in my family had appointments we would sit in his lobby forever and he would be in the room for less than a minute. My mom ended up choosing a new health insurance company so we would not have to go to him.

    June 9, 2010 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. MiMi

    My 4 biracial grandchildren all have asthma. I don't see a difference in how they are treated by their doctors. BUT, I would LOVE for their doctors to get onto their mothers about diet, giving them their meds and breathing treatments regularly, not being around smokers of any kind, etc.

    June 9, 2010 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. norbert leute

    What another story that people of different color or race aren't recieving the same health care as whites. Garbage. It seems to me that the parents should be demanding to see a specialist. It not their health insures stinks. To compare it against the military health care system you will get these types of results. The study isn't about providing better health care its about pointing out racial difference that may not matter. Instead of talking about race or whose not getting better care by race or color. Talk about how to make it better.

    June 9, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Denise

      Q-Tips rock. HOWEVER, people, bawree! Q-Tips aren't good for your ears, (really!) and is NOT effective in taking out earwax. It actually says so right on the box. This is really true. The Q-Tip pushes the earwax BACK into your canal, covering your eardrum, which makes you feel like your ear is clogged (which it is). The earwax that comes out is really just a stain on the cotton. The actual earwax is more like tiny crumbs. The earwax stain is caused by the smearing of the earwax on your eardrum. What you should do:First of all, the best thing to do is to get used to it. Because the way earwax works, the earwax eventually ends up within pointer-finger range (meaning, you can just scratch it out without digging). Try to get used to having it that way.The Doctors way: You can also visit your doctor and have the coolest feeling inside your ear. What he does is: Think of a syringe. Now think of it about the size of a can of deoderant, maybe a little smaller. He shoots water out of this, and blasts the earwax out. It feels sooooo good. It feels a million times better than a thousand Q-tips combined. Your ear is reborn. You can actually buy this straight, just ask him where you can get it without having to be part of a medical practice and sounding really odd on the phone.If you need to do it without a doctor: You can do this method at home. First, to soften the earwax, use baby oil or DILUTED hydrogen pyroxide in water (VERY DILUTED- ask your doc for the exact amount) then use a spritz of water from an ordinary syringe, or take a shower.And remember- QTIPS ROCK FOR EVERYTHING ELSE!!!!!

      March 6, 2012 at 00:23 | Report abuse |
  7. Carletos

    This report is based on fact, I understand the AMA was not intergated untill 1971, Which, for a group of Medical Science people, is a social failure. I have heard worst. My wife, a white woman, was told by a female Doctor that a boil she had was because she was with a Black man, Yes, I am a black or dark hispanic. She changed Doctors.
    I have noticed that in white medical communities in the suburbs Staff do react differently to my first appearence. It is getting better, But it is difficult to even question equality and trust when dealing with Medical Science If you use a spanish sounding name, will the test results be objective. Should people be jailed for violating the 1964 Equality Laws, on any level of the process. Thanks

    June 9, 2010 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ann Wright

    Wait a minute.
    No where in this article did it say that all the providers were white. No one said that white doctors were giving poorer care to black or Hispanic patients.
    Pay attention people. You may be prejudiced if you assume that all the medical professinals are white. Or that non-white physicians might not be giving poorer care to non-whites.

    June 9, 2010 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. barnescjk

    I doubt that race has anything to do with the treatment. Recently my "white" grand nephew was hospitalized 3 times in 2 months for asthma. It was only at my nieces insistance that he was referred to a pulmonologist. She lives in Charlotte NC. She had the knowledge to insist on the specialist. Others my not feel they need to do it. Most people if they did not have the knowledge or stamina to stand up to the doctor, they probably would accept what they are being told. It could be the arrogance of the southern doctors. Like I said though, I doubt race has anything to do with it.

    June 9, 2010 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Smith in Oregon

    Obviously researchers familiar with TB and AID's diseases it is evident that African and African America individuals have different needs and weakness's in their immunity systems on a genetic level. Using across the board medical treatment for African and African Americans is likely to fail.

    June 9, 2010 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jinx

    Believe it or not it just may be the money. Asthma medicine is extremely expensive even with co-pays. As a black woman who has had asthma all of her life; I can't afford to go to a specialist and I have a good job. Not to mention the assortment of side effects that go along with all those meds. Asthma has become a cash cow and not everyone can afford to pay the beast.

    June 9, 2010 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. sellman

    So the doctors are racist now? Join the club docs, the liberal media has already slandered America's cops and teachers as a bunch of racists it was only a matter of time before you got targeted for other people's failings also– I bet you're making everyone fat also!!!!!!

    June 10, 2010 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. nicole

    I don't think some people realize how intertwine "Race" is in our society and how we all think. Many people even those in prestige positions/authority have hang ups about race that do affect their thinking and the way they do things.

    June 10, 2010 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. chris

    As a professional in the medical fieldIi have witnesses substandard care given to non whites. Why is it so hard for people to believe racism exists?

    June 10, 2010 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dev

      Isn't this sooo exciting. It's funny baseuce mine just peaked through as well and I also used saran wrap to create something sort of like a tent. I watch them grow every single day. My chives, basil and tomatoes are growing like crazy. Sooo excited. My peppers and parsley have not peaked through yet and are taking their time. I am looking forward every single day to get off of work to look at the progress. I love nature and being able to watch it. I love you methapor. It really does show us that even if things don't work out as expected, there is a reason and it will all fall into place without us intervening. Instead of forcefully trying to change the course of natural event, sit back and take and enjoy things as they happen. This post really made my day, Laura. Really needed that today.

      March 4, 2012 at 09:22 | Report abuse |
  15. Jonas

    Thank you Chris and Nicole.

    You know, I don't have a problem with white people. But just like any race, there are some bad apples. Wow. It never ceases to amaze me how some whites are so ready to say racism is dead for the most part. Until you've walked a mile in my shoes, sit down and shut up. You're white, you're treated like a white person – not that there isn't unfair treatment for other things – but you don't know ANYTHING about living with racism. And the people of color who tell you they never encounter racism lie to you because they don't feel like hearing you tell them that their lives are all in their head. I'm a highly paid employee of a Fortune 500 company. I have excellent insurance. But every time I've ever taken my child to see a doctor, the person we see assumes the insurance is Medicaid. I had to bully our doctor into getting her in to see a pulmonologist. That our child wasn't just an "allergy kid." When she was finally admitted to a hospital with a pulse-ox so low she had to be intubated, our doctor got mad at "us people" for not paying close enough attention. This was after almost six office visits, three urgent care visits and two emergency room visits in a month. Every time we told them she was asthmatic. Every time, we were told to give her a cough suppressant! Two doctors, neither of which even took a pulse-ox, told us that Medicaid had restrictions on what we wanted to do – AFTER we corrected the people at reception. Our insurance was right on the chart. And any asthma parent knows a cough suppressant is a no-no since a cough is sometimes the only signal that a serious flare is coming. No, not every white person is the devil. But you are seriously kidding yourself if you think minorities get treated just like everyone else. I'm sorry if the truth hurts. But maybe you're just being too sensitive. Maybe your persecution is all in your head. The mere implication of mistreatment of minorities has you crying about how the media is perpetrating a myth about you? Oh, I guess you're crying wolf like all us whining colored people.

    June 12, 2010 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Claire Richardson

    what is a good alternative treatment for asthma? i'm looking for some alternative medicine stuffs :

    August 11, 2010 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jose Perez

    asthma simply sucks! i suffer from it for several years already~`;

    September 30, 2010 at 04:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. growing long hair

    integrated Mc

    July 11, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply

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