Study Urges End to Racial Gap in Health Care

Finds it could save far more lives than technological advances

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 29, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Correcting racial disparities in health care would save five times as many lives as would advances in medical technology, says a study in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"The prudence of investing billions in the development of new drugs and technologies while investing only a fraction of that amount in the correction of disparities deserves reconsideration. It is an imbalance that may claim more lives than it saves," the study authors wrote.

A research team led by Dr. Steven Woolf, a professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, analyzed U.S. death data from 1991 to 2000. The team estimated that 886,202 deaths could have been prevented in that period if elimination of racial disparities had reduced the death rate of black Americans to levels comparable to the death rate of whites.

During the same period, technological advances prevented 176,633 deaths, according to the study.

"Achieving equity may do more for health than perfecting the technology of care," the authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about racial disparities in health care.

SOURCES: The Robert Graham Center, news release, Dec. 20, 2004

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