Does your mental health outcome depend on your age, gender, or race? Most people would like to think the answer is no, but studies show there are disparities.
Lauren Whomsley wasn’t always this active. For years she suffered severe knee pain,
Whomsley told Ivanhoe, “On a scale of 1-10, my pain level was an 8-9 every day.”
But three doctors told her the same thing.
“I was too young to have the surgery,” Whomsley told Ivanhoe.
Orthopedic surgeon for the Mayo Clinic in Florida, Mary O’Connor M.D. says doctors often treat women like Lauren differently than men.
O’Connor told Ivanhoe, “The term I like to use is, I’m not sure that a woman’s voice is always heard as clearly.”
One Canadian study found physicians who evaluated patients with moderate knee arthritis were 22 times more likely to recommend surgery for males. In another study, women were up to 23 percent less likely to receive opioid pain meds in the ER.
O’Connor said to Ivanhoe, “Does the doctor think her pain is as bad as the woman says it is?”
Studies also show minorities are under-represented in clinical trials. African Americans only account for 5 percent of participants and Hispanics make up 1 percent.
Director of HealthStreet Founding at the University of Florida, Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., MPH is trying to change that with HealthStreet. HealthStreet is an organization that recruits minorities for clinical trials and other services.
Cottler told Ivanhoe, “It’s important to have representation of all communities and populations in research, so that their voice can be heard.”
Daryl Pastor, community health worker for HealthStreet, educates peoples in his community about the program.
Pastor told Ivanhoe, “Our job is to try to include as many folks in health research as we possibly can.”
Whomsley found a surgeon who did operate, and she’s active and glad she didn’t take no for an answer.
Whomsley told Ivanhoe, “I did a 5K two months after my surgery!”
The most under-represented groups in clinical studies are Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, women and the elderly. Doctors say it’s important to study these populations because certain diseases and conditions are more prevalent in different groups.
HealthStreet has served over 11,000 people and provided about 10,000 services. The organization has connected 40 percent of its recruits to studies.
BACKGROUND: Over 100 million American’s live with chronic pain, and a majority of them are women. In 2009 a study was done testing 85,000 people in 10 developed countries, and seven developing countries. 45 percent of women and only 31 percent of men reported having chronic pain. In 2009 researchers at the University of Florida, and then again in 2012 at Stanford University, found that women were more likely to have jaw problems, headaches, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and more muscular and back pain. Multiple studies have been done to show that women get less help than men when going to see a doctor. One example was done by the Mayo Clinic where 2,271 men and women went to the emergency room complaining of chest pains and it was seen that men were looked at much more carefully rather than the women who were often overlooked. Another example can be seen by a Canadian study where researchers talked to 38 family physicians and 33 orthopedic surgeons and got them to evaluate “standard” knee arthritis patients, and results showed that they were 22 times more likely to recommend a knee replacement to men.
(Source: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304691904579349212319995486 )
MINORITY HEALTH: Clinical studies are an important way for research to be done and to get a representation of how it would affect the public. However, often times these representations aren’t accurately portraying the masses because the majority of these studies involve mostly white patients. These trials are what determine if these new drugs, vaccines, or devices will be approved by the FDA for public consumption. By including more races and diversity into these trials then they can be sure that everything they approve is safe for all types of people and not just one race. Due to biological differences in races, our genes are all made up differently, and often one product that is so helpful to one group can be toxic to another. Here are some statistics to show the representation of minorities in clinical trials.
* African Americans account for 12 percent of the United States population yet only 5 percent of clinical trial participants
* Hispanic participants make up only 1 percent up clinical trials but make up 16 percent of the U.S. population
* Two-thirds of clinical test involving cardiovascular devices are men
(Source: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm349063 )
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