Avoiding Racial Health Disparities in Prescription Strategies

racial health
Study: Too close for comfort: leveraging identity-based relevance through targeted health information backfires for Black Americans,

Doctors’ strategies for increasing patient engagement with health information may work for white Americans, but they may backfire for Black Americans. According to a new University of Michigan analysis, targeted health programs may not be the answer to increasing Black Americans’ engagement. In many circumstances, Black Americans believe that the information provider is unfairly judging them based on their color.

The paper, which appeared in Science but used data from research published in the October issue of the Journal of Communication, was written by U-M psychologist Allison Earl and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis colleague Veronica Derricks. They investigated how efficient information-targeting as a communication approach backfired, particularly among excluded races.

“We find that targeting information based on marginalized racial identities predicts decrements in attention, trust and willingness to engage in message-relevant behavior among Black Americans who experience social identity threat,” said Earl, associate professor of psychology.

However, efforts to garner support for the legislation required to address these discrepancies have met with minimal success, highlighting the vital need for effective interventions to shift behavior.

Several obstacles in the medical industry prevent minority individuals from receiving accurate health information. Earl stated that certain practitioners may have racial biases that influence therapeutic decision-making.

Furthermore, legislation can limit Black Americans’ access to quality health care. These would include unequal resource allocation, such as vaccines, as well as limited clinic locations and hours.

Derricks and Earl discovered in their October study that Black Americans who received targeted health communications about HIV or flu indicated less attention to the message and less trust in the message source. White Americans, on the other hand, did not respond differently to targeting.

Despite the prevalence of health disparities, Earl claims that politicians, legislators, and the general public are uninterested in taking steps to successfully address them. They may deliberately try to keep these gaps open.

For more information: Allison Earl et al, Increasing policy support for reducing racial health disparities, Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/science.adm7199

Veronica Derricks et al, Too close for comfort: leveraging identity-based relevance through targeted health information backfires for Black Americans, Journal of Communication (2023). DOI: 10.1093/joc/jqad022

Rachel Paul is a Senior Medical Content Specialist. She has a Masters Degree in Pharmacy from Osmania University. She always has a keen interest in medical and health sciences. She expertly communicates and crafts latest informative and engaging medical and healthcare narratives with precision and clarity. She is proficient in researching, writing, editing, and proofreading medical content and blogs.