Overcoming the Legacy of Mistrust: African Americans’ Mistrust of Medical Profession

Journal of Healthcare Ethics and Administration 4 (1):16-40 (2018)
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Recent studies show that racism still exists in the American medical profession, the fact of which legitimizes the historically long-legacy of mistrust towards medical profession and health authorities among African Americans. Thus, it was suspected that the participation of black patients in end-of-life care has always been significantly low stemmed primarily from their mistrust of the medical profession. On the other hand, much research finds that there are other reasons than the mistrust which makes African Americans feel reluctant to the end-of-life care, such as cultural-religious difference and genuine misunderstanding of the services. If so, two crucial questions are raised. One is how pervasive or significant the mistrust is, compared to the other factors, when they opt out of the end-of-life care. The other is if there is a remedy or solution to the seemingly broken relationship. While no studies available answer these questions, we have conducted an experiment to explore them. The research was performed at two Philadelphia hospitals of Mercy Health System, and the result shows that Black patients’ mistrust is not too great to overcome and that education can remove the epistemic obstacles as well as overcome the mistrust.

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