In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with internal medicine physician Dr. Greg Hall, we discuss Dr. Hall’s evidence-based guide to providing better healthcare for African Americans. We also discuss whether other similar guides exist for other minority groups.
Can you please tell us a bit about your book, Patient-Centered Clinical Care for African Americans: A Concise Evidence-Based Guide to Important Differences and Better Outcomes? What were your motivations for writing this book?
Dr. Greg Hall:
“I was the Chairman of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health for many years, and I had to give a Chairman’s report every 2 months on health disparities. About 90% of my patients are African American, so I primarily focused on African American health disparities. I learned a lot while I was doing this research. With each talk I gave, I composed an article on it for my website and addressed disease and treatment differences for conditions such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and sleep disorders.
I also learned that not all minority groups have bad health outcomes. For example, Asian Americans have a life expectancy of about 87 years. Hispanic Americans have a life expectancy of about 82 years. Caucasian Americans have a life expectancy of about 78 years. And African Americans have a life expectancy of about 72 years. I noticed just how much African Americans are affected by health disparities. So I decided to write a book on all of the clinical pearls I had learned about African American health.
As human beings, we share 99.9% of our DNA. But that 0.1% difference is significant. It’s what gives African Americans an increased risk for prostate cancer, colon cancer, aggressive breast cancer, and lung cancer, despite having lower rates of smoking than Caucasian Americans.
And so, the book is a guide for providers on best practices in caring for their African American patients, and it points to the research that supports these important disease and treatment differences.
You know, I was asked to write a book about all minorities. And I said, ‘I don’t know much about Hispanic American health or Asian American health. And African Americans have the worst health outcomes. They deserve their own book.’ So, the drive for this book was to improve African American health disparities by supporting providers in providing better care for their African American patients.”
Are you aware of other similar, evidence-based guides to providing culturally sensitive care for other minority groups? Would you recommend these guides to physicians?
Dr. Greg Hall:
“When I was trying to publish my book, I was asked, ‘what books out there are like this book?’ And I told them, ‘there’s no competition. There’s no other book on the clinical care of African Americans.’ I told the publisher, ‘You have a book on a diagnosis that occurs in 8,000 people a year. You have a book on that, but you can’t have a book that’s relevant to the health of over 40 million Americans?’
My book isn’t so much about being culturally sensitive. Some aspects of culturally sensitive care are touched upon in the book, but it’s primarily focused on disease and treatment differences in African American patients.
So, I know there’s no other book out there on the clinical care of African Americans, but there may be some others out there that are specific to other populations.”
Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.