The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to racial disparities in healthcare for Black Americans. New research from the University of Georgia shows that beyond the physical toll of the virus, African Americans also face significant mental health concerns. Professor Ryon Cobb is the lead author of the study.
"What we found is that number one: Around 60% of Black Americans believe the COVID-19 outbreak represented a major threat to their personal health. Number Two: Most Black Americans believe that medical institutions treat them unfairly relative to white. Our major finding is number three, that both factors, individually and jointly, predict higher numbers of psychological distress among blacks."
Cobb says healthcare professionals can help dismantle inequalities in the system.
"There's some on the ground core work that needs to be done. Also, number 2, having these culturally sensitive conversations, we're seeing evidence of, especially for blacks and latinos in areas that are poor, are having less access to vaccines. Blacks are more likely to believe COVID-19 is threatening, but whites are more likely to have the vaccine. "
The study used data from the American Trends Panel survey by the Pew Research Center collected shortly after the initial outbreak in March 2020, a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States.
Ryon Cobb is an assistant professor of sociology at the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.