A new study has determined that Black people who live in counties with more Black primary care doctors have a higher life expectancy.
To conduct the study, researchers analyzed data from 1,618 U.S. counties with at least one Black primary care doctor and took snapshots at five-year intervals in 2009, 2014, and 2019, per STAT News. They found that the life expectancy of Black residents increased with the number of Black physicians found in a county.
For every 10 percent increase in Black doctors, life expectancy lengthened by more than a month. The disparity in Black and white mortality rates decreased by 1.2 percent for every 10 percent increase in Black physicians.
Notably, Black residents in counties with at least one Black physician still had longer life expectancies whether or not they were patients of these doctors. Just the presence of a Black doctor in a county “may be a marker for living in a community that better supports Black lives,” Dr. John Snyder, one of the study’s lead authors, said.
According to STAT, this study, which was conducted by the American Medical Association, is the first to link higher numbers of Black physicians with longer life expectancy for Black Americans.
However, the data also revealed that more than half of the counties across the nation don’t have a single Black primary care physician.
“This study has brought to light the importance of Black PCP (primary care physician) representation to public health outcomes among Black populations across the US,” Dr. Monica E. Peek, a researcher at the University of Chicago Medicine, wrote. “Increasing this representation must become a multifaceted national strategy to improve health and increase equity among Black populations in the US.”