Medical diseases are becoming more complex, research is getting better, and people are living longer. There has never been a time where patients need to trust their doctors more.
The general public’s trust in the U.S. medical profession has continuously dropped, sharply, over the last 50 years. In 1966, 73% of Americans said they had great confidence in the leaders of the medical profession. In 2012, only 34% of Americans felt this way.
In no segment of the United States population is this more present than in the African American community. Mistrust of the health care system by African Americans is a major problem.
From the horrendous medical experiments that took place on the ship that brought the human cargo from Africa; to the crude practice of medicine on enslaved Africans; to the unequal, segregated healthcare system during the Jim Crow era; up to current disparities in health outcomes, African Americans have more than sufficient cause to be filled with mistrust and suspicion towards the United States medical system.
The now infamous United States Public Health Service Syphilis in Tuskegee is perhaps the most widely known study exclusive to African Americans. It was conducted from 1932 to 1972, and researchers withheld treatment from about 400 black men in Macon County, Alabama in order to study how the disease progressed. The study continued all those years without treatment, even after penicillin became the standard cure. This study has become to many, a classic and historical case of blatant governmental racism against African Americans and is one major reason why so many African Americans’ distrust the health care system. (Seattle Medium)