Current Health Status of Blacks in the United States: The Case for Future Improvement of Healthcare Delivery



The health of black people in the United States is an ever-evolving situation. Information that was pertinent 10 years ago has changed significantly, and it is safe to say that there is always good news and bad news no matter what window we use to view African American health. As time has passed, unfavorable socioeconomic conditions have deeply impacted the third largest racial/ethnic group in the country to the extent that healthcare disparities have continued to lead to higher mortality and greater morbidity for blacks from most major illnesses and diseases compared to other subpopulations. The evidence of these devastating effects is collected by several reliable sources and is produced on a periodic basis that allows us to access the metrics used to follow the trends and perhaps to make some decisions about how to correct the problems that are observed. In this chapter, a compendium of information on health of the African American population entitled Vital Signs, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is used as a basis for indicating those trends and identifying those problems. The chapter that follows this one will address possible solutions to the problems.


Vital statistics Life expectancy Whites Blacks Death rates Socioeconomic conditions Mortality gap Epidemiology Mortality Morbidity Health status Geographic Cancer Cardiovascular disease Lifestyle Racial Ethnic Educational Diabetes 


  1. 1.
    Cunningham TJ, Croft JB, Liu Y, Lu H, Eke PI, Giles WH. Vital signs: racial disparities in age-specific mortality among blacks or African Americans—United States, 1999-2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66(17):444–56. Erratum: MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66(18):490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States. 2017: with special feature on mortality. Hyattsville; 2018.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Colby SL, Ortman JM. Projections of the size and composition of the U. S. population: 2014 to 2060. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics and Administration, Bureau of the Census; 2014.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Heron M, Anderson RN. Changes in the leading cause of death: recent patterns in heart disease and cancer mortality. NCHS Data Brief. 2016;254:1–8.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Twombly R. Cancer surpasses heart disease as leading cause of death in all but the very elderly. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005;97(5):330–1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Krieger N, Rehkopf DH, Chen JT, Waterman PD, Marcelli E, Kennedy M. The fall and rise of US inequities in premature mortality: 1960-2002. PLoS Med. 2008;5(2):e46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Weir HK, Anderson RN, Coleman King SM, Soman A, Thompson TD, Hong Y, et al. Heart disease and cancer deaths—trends and projections in the United States, 1969-2020. Prev Chron Dis. 2016;13:E157.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Murray CJ, Kulkarni SC, Michaud C, Tomijima N, Buzacchelli MT, Iandioro TJ, Ezzati M. Eight Americas: investigating mortality disparities across races, counties, and race-counties in the United States. PLoS Med. 2006;3(9):e260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    National Center for Health Statistics. Leading causes of death, 1900–1998. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2008.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Omran AR. The epidemiologic transition. A theory of the epidemiology of population change. Milbank Mem Fund Q. 1971;49(4):509–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hastings KG, Boothroyd DB, Kapphan K, Hu J, Rehkopf DH, Cullen MR, Palaniappan L. Socioeconomic differences in the epidemiologic transition from heart disease to cancer as the leading cause of death in the United States, 2003 to 2015: an observational study. Ann Intern Med. 2018;169(12):836–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Chetty R, Stepner M, Abraham S, Lin S, Scuderi B, Turner N, et al. The association between income and life expectancy in the United States, 2001-2014. JAMA. 2016;315(16):1750–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cullen MR, Cummins C, Fuchs VR. Geographic and racial variation in premature mortality in the U.S.: analyzing the disparities. PLoS One. 2012;7:e32930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. National Health Expenditure Fact Sheet. Accessed 20 Dec 2019.
  15. 15.
    Benjamin EJ, Muntner P, Alonso A, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, et al. American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics −2019 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2019;139(10):e56–e528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gomes T, Tadrous M, Mamdani MM, Paterson JM, Juurlink DN. The burden of opioid-related mortality in the United States. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(2):e180217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hales CM, Fryar CD, Carroll MD, Freedman DS, Aoki Y, Ogden CL. Trends in obesity and severe obesity prevalence in US youth and adults by sex and age, 2007-2008 to 2015-2016. JAMA. 2018;319(16):1723–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Collins SR, Gunja MZ, Doty MM, Buhupal HK. First look at health insurance coverage in 2018 finds ACA gains beginning to reverse. The Commonwealth Fund. To the Point. 1 May 2018.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EncinoUSA

Personalised recommendations