Long before the devastation of COVID-19, our trust in healthcare was on a major decline.

This mistrust is attributed to the growth in managed care, for-profit healthcare, public disclosure of healthcare malpractice, fraud, and an increase in public access to medical information.   

Now, nearly a year after the virus entered the U.S, one question remains among many people: 

Can we REALLY trust our healthcare system?

Although thousands of frontline healthcare workers rush to save lives every day, mistrust remains as the U.S introduces COVID-19 vaccines to the public, particularly among racial and ethnic minority groups. 

In fact, according to recent research by COVID Collaborative, the NAACP, and UnidosUS, only 14% of Black Americans and 34% of Hispanic Americans trust vaccine safety. 

 Cultural and Personal Experiences

This cultural distrust in the healthcare system and interpersonal trust in physicians is highly complex. This post only highlights a few, although significant, contributions to this issue within our communities. 

    • Black American’s experiences with racism
    • Knowledge of racism within the healthcare system
  • A deep history of maltreatment treatment towards Black Americans, such as experimentation on slaves and the Syphilis Tuskegee experiments (1932-1972)  I encourage you to read about how these experiments were conducted and compare what you believe has happened to what actually happened. 

These past individual experiences form a wider cultural memory. Plus, with this year’s social and political unrest, many individuals are thinking twice about the vaccine. 

So, what can we do to open up conversations? How can we remain informed and protected? What can healthcare providers and scientists do to regain your trust?

The Power of Diversity 

Every day, people from all walks of life seek medical attention from doctors, yet the landscape of healthcare is heavily undiversified. 

Healthcare is a very personal arena, which means most people are very careful with who they share information with. 

Patients tend to trust physicians who they can relate to in culture, gender, background, and language. This connection leads to stronger patient-physician relationships, better health outcomes, patient compliance, and retention. 

So, is it possible for trust to be restored? Better yet, how can trust be restored in our healthcare system? 

Here are a few things that can be considered: 

  • Additional medical school diversity and inclusion initiatives and stronger cultural competency training
  • Healthcare providers who show empathy, compassion, and willingness to educate patients
  • Shared decision making in treatment plans
  • Clinical and personal transparency 
  • Increased diversity in vaccine trails 

What do you think?

What comments do you hear among your community members about their trust in healthcare or about the COVID-19 vaccination? 

Jump in the comments to share your thoughts.

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