Life expectancy is higher among Black people living in areas of the U.S. that have a higher proportion of Black primary care physicians, a study published April 14 in JAMA Network Open found.
Researchers analyzed the outcomes of Black Americans living in 1,618 counties in 2009, 2014 and 2019. They also calculated the ratio of Black primary care physicians in each county’s primary care physician workforce to understand how these representation levels were associated with outcomes.
On average, every 10 percent increase in representation was associated with a 31-day higher age-standardized life expectancy among Black people. Higher proportions of Black physicians were also linked to lower all-cause mortality rates among Black individuals and fewer disparities in mortality rates between Black and white people.
“The findings of this cohort study suggest that greater Black PCP workforce representation is associated with better population health measures for Black individuals, although there was a dearth of U.S. counties with at least [one] Black PCP during each study time point,” study authors concluded. “Investments to build a more representative PCP workforce nationally may be important for improving population health.”
Researchers from HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration, Oak Ridge (Tenn.) Institute for Science and Education, the American Cancer Society and the Association of American Medical Colleges conducted the study.