A new Quest Diagnostics Health Trends study finds that Black and Hispanic/Latinx Americans are nearly two times as likely as White Americans to say their access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and healthcare, once available, is worse than other racial/ethnic groups.
The study, titled COVID-19: Magnifying Racial Disparities in U.S. Healthcare, is based on a nationally representative survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX).
“COVID-19 has exacerbated long-standing inequities in healthcare, particularly among communities of color. Our new Health Trends research reveals people perceive, trust and engage with the healthcare system for COVID-19 differently depending on race and ethnicity,” said Harvey W. Kaufman, M.D., Senior Medical Director, Head of the Health Trends Research Program for Quest Diagnostics. “Importantly, it also reveals they expect America’s COVID-19 experience will lead to meaningful change in healthcare. Policy makers and providers should take these insights to heart, particularly as our country embarks on an unprecedented vaccination campaign.”
COVID-19: Magnifying Racial Disparities in U.S. Healthcare reveals racial divides in perceptions of access to healthcare and trust during the pandemic.
Select findings below:
Black and Hispanic/Latinx Americans lack confidence in access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics
- Black and Hispanic/Latinx Americans are nearly two times as likely to say their access to COVID-19 vaccines, once available, is worse than other racial/ethnic groups, compared to White Americans (Black, 21%; Hispanic/Latinx, 17%; White 9%).
- In addition, a larger proportion of Black and Hispanic/Latinx Americans felt access to COVID testing (15%, Black; 17%, Hispanic/Latinx vs. 8% White), COVID therapeutics (22%; 19% vs. 10%), quality preventative care during COVID (23%; 17% vs. 9%) and quality COVID-19 care (20%; 15% vs. 9%) is inferior to access for people of other races.
Fewer Black and Hispanic/Latinx Americans trust they would receive equitable life-saving COVID-19 care
- A much higher percentage of White Americans (84%) are confident that they would receive the same life-saving care as people of other races or ethnicities if they contracted COVID-19. Conversely, only 67% of Hispanic/Latinx Americans and 64% of Black Americans share this confidence.
- Fewer Black Americans (79%) and Hispanic/Latinx Americans (71%) trust their doctors would do everything possible to save their life if diagnosed with COVID-19 than White Americans (85%).
- The survey found that 42% of Black Americans are more scared of getting COVID-19 than a delayed diagnosis for cancer, compared to only 33% of White Americans.
Lack of preventative care may fuel concern in undiagnosed conditions
- One in two Black Americans (49%) are concerned they currently have an undiagnosed health condition, compared to only 39% of White Americans.
- A majority of Americans (60%) have skipped or delayed some in-person medical treatments or appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially Hispanic/Latinx Americans (67%, compared to White and Black Americans at 59% and 58%, respectively).
The study also found that 52% of Americans expect actions will be taken to address racial disparities in healthcare in the wake of COVID-19.
“Our society is at an inflection point in terms of publicly and openly acknowledging, accepting and acting to eliminate racial disparities in healthcare,” said Gary A. Puckrein, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Minority Quality Forum. “This Quest Diagnostics research underscores the lack of trust and access to healthcare in minority communities. It’s vital for organizations – both public and private – to step off the sidelines and get into the game to take steps to build a more equitable healthcare system for all Americans. By sharing data and insights that demonstrate the depth and breadth of racial disparities, Quest Diagnostics is taking meaningful action to help solve the larger population health crisis that COVID-19 has further exposed.”
The analysis follows a Health Trends report issued last month that found that a majority of all Americans (74%) have avoided or delayed getting a diagnostic COVID-19 test when they believed they needed one (Black, 72%; Hispanic/Latinx, 83%; White 72%).
Addressing Racial Disparities in Health
“2021 provides a moment to illuminate pathways forward to addressing inequities so people can access quality COVID-19 care and other services regardless of race or ethnicity,” said Harvey W. Kaufman, M.D., Senior Medical Director, Head of the Health Trends Research Program for Quest Diagnostics. “COVID-19 has increased the moral imperative and urgency to address racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare, including issues of access and bias.”
To help address disparities now and in the future, Quest Diagnostics is working immediately to improve the equitable allocation of diagnostic testing. One of these strategies involves tailoring outreach through collaborations to encourage vulnerable communities to get back to care, in part to help better control the chronic conditions that increase risk for severe illness due to COVID-19. Insights from this study have informed additional steps Quest Diagnostics will take to improve health equity, reduce racial bias in healthcare and build trust with communities of color.
In August 2020, Quest Diagnostics announced Quest for Health Equity, a national initiative to address and reduce health disparities in underserved communities, including those impacted by COVID-19. The multi-year initiative involves a commitment of more than $100 million in resources by Quest Diagnostics and the Quest Diagnostics Foundation for a combination of testing services, education programs, collaborations, and direct financial support. The initiative builds on the company’s relationships with federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), through which it provides COVID-19 testing and other laboratory services to underserved communities across the United States.
In addition, in response to inequities highlighted by COVID-19, the company’s Health Trends team has published peer-reviewed research, based on the company’s de-identified laboratory data, on racial/ethnic differences in COVID-19 testing results. This includes a recent study that found that largely Black non-Hispanic and Hispanic populations in the United States have the highest COVID-19 test positivity rates.
“COVID-19 highlighted existing health disparities and the enormity of the problem. Too many Americans from our most vulnerable communities are disproportionately impacted and too many lack access to care and COVID-19 and other diagnostic testing amidst a pandemic,” said Ruth Clements, Vice President and General Manager of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and leader for Quest for Health Equity at Quest Diagnostics. “At Quest, we believe in equal access to COVID-19 testing and important preventative diagnostic services. Through our community collaborations like Choose Healthy Life with the Black clergy and FQHCs we are striving to bring health equity to populations in need.”
On behalf of Quest Diagnostics, The Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 2,050 adults 18 years and older across the United States from November 10-12, 2020. The survey sample included 337 Hispanic/Latinx, 265 Black and 1,278 White adults. Figures for age by sex, region, education, household size, marital status and household income were weighted by race/ethnicity where necessary to make them representative of their actual proportions in the population. The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 that is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times.