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'We tend to trust people that look like us', Why Black men in America are less likely to seek primary care

African American men, especially, are less likely than all other minority groups to seek primary care, preventative care, or healthcare in general.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Having a primary care provider establishes a partner for your health, but 1 in 4 men do not have one. 

African American men, especially, are less likely than all other minority groups to seek primary care, preventative care, or healthcare in general.

As a group, black men have the lowest life expectancy in America. 

If we know these things to be true, the question becomes, why do so many black men avoid primary care- even when they don’t face barriers like insurance and cost? 

“I think when you look at men in general, they are less likely to be forthcoming with their health issues,” said Dr. Kelly McCants, M.D., Director of The Norton Healthcare Institute for Health Equity. 

“That becomes more compounded, particularly in African-Americans who have not historically had that relationship with providers.” 

Dr. McCants is also a heart expert and HBCU graduate. 

“We tend to trust people that look like us, where we can have a comfortable conversation about things that we may be embarrassed about, that we may be uncomfortable about, or that we may not know about,” he said. “The problem is, what’s is at the center of that, is your health.” 

Heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension are among the top killers of black men. These illnesses alone- are solely responsible for the loss of generations of black men.

“If we could control and prevent hypertension, all of those other things that you mention would go away,” Dr. McCants said. 

“When it comes to cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, if you control the blood pressure, particularly in African-Americans and African-American men, those things are less likely to cause what we called in organ damage to the point where you have a stroke, you end up on dialysis, or you have a heart attack," he said.

"So, a lot of it is preventable if we catch it early, have those uncomfortable conversations, and make sure people adhere to medicines."  

In an Open Letter to Black Men, WHAS11 Anchor Eric King writes about the importance of preventative care saying, “Inaction should be viewed as a self-imposed death sentence.”  

King presented that statement to Dr. McCants for perspective, he said, “That’s a very strong statement, but I think it’s a powerful one. If you do not have a relationship with a provider, that you have had throughout your lifetime, those people have a life expectancy that is clearly shorter than those that do.” 

To learn more about how to find a primary care provider near you, visit Norton Healthcare’s website. 

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