Friday, October 31, 2008

Doctors 'unknowingly favour whites'

What absurd data! An internet survey! You could hardly get more unrepresentative data if you tried! The study proves nothing

Doctors subconsciously favor whites over blacks, US researchers said today in a finding that may explain widespread racial disparities in health care in the US. A long line of studies have found that US blacks get inferior care for cancer and a variety of other ailments compared to whites but experts concerned about the disparities have struggled to understand why.

"This supports speculation that subtle race bias may affect health care, but does not imply that it will," said Janice Sabin of the University of Washington in Seattle, who presented the study at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting in San Diego. Ms Sabin said it was too early to know if there was a direct link between the findings and the quality of care delivered to blacks in the US. She said the findings reinforce other studies showing racial bias is common in the general population. "But we have to remember people are not racist if they hold an implicit bias," she said.

Ms Sabin used data from a study of more than 400,000 people who took an online test between 2004 and 2006 about their attitudes on race. More than 2500 of the test-takers said they were doctors. [But were they?]

Rather than overt racism, the test looks for subconscious signs of bias by asking a series of questions. For example, people were asked to quickly say whether photos of blacks and whites were positive or negative. "We don't call what these tests show prejudice. We talk about it as hidden bias or unconscious bias, something that most people are unaware they even possess," said Anthony Greenwald of the University of Washington, who created the test and helped with the study.

Overall, 86 per cent of people who took the test said they lived in the US. Out of 2535 physicians, 76 per cent said they were U.S. residents. Of the entire sample, 69 per cent said they were white, while 66 per cent of those who said they were doctors identified themselves as white. Doctors in all racial and ethnic groups showed an implicit preference for whites versus blacks except for black doctors, who did not favour either group.

"The implicit bias effect among all the test-takers is very strong," Ms Sabin said. "People who report they have a medical education are not different from other people, and this kind of unconscious bias is a common phenomenon." Ms Sabin said the study shows diversity training should be a part of medical education in the US.

Studies have shown blacks in the US are more likely than whites to die from diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and cancer. Some studies have shown this disparity persists when incomes, education and insurance coverage are equal. [And other studies have shown no difference]


Fat kids heavily persecuted in Britain

Some kids are just naturally fat. It's in their genes

At least seven morbidly obese children were taken into care last year by social services. [i.e. removed from their families]. A boy of six who was seriously overweight, a girl of seven with a Body Mass Index three times higher than normal, and an eight-year-old girl who weighed nine stone, were among those taken from their parents. They were joined by a boy of 12 from London who had a BMI of 28 to 60 per cent above the 17.5 average for his age.

The figures were released by councils following a request under the Freedom of Information Act. Dr Colin Waine, former head of the National Obesity Forum Charity, said more needed to be done to monitor vulnerable children before social services were forced to intervene.

Meanwhile, health minister Dawn Primarolo has hailed Disneyland for offering healthy side dishes in its fast food outlets. Ms Primarolo told the Food Standards Agency she wanted to see all food outlets 'making healthy choices a default option'. She also praised Tesco for using the characters Tigger and Mickey Mouse to promote fresh fruit, juice, cereal and yoghurts.


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