This Health Disparities update takes a look at the efficacy of brain training programs on Mental Health, ethnic disparities in drug trials and the Medical discrimination in the Medscape 2017 report.
An article published by Stacy M. Brown, details how Black Physicians earn 15% less than their White counterparts (data collected from Medscape’s 2017 physicians compensation report). According to this report, 50% of Black Physicians feel they are unfairly compensated.
After accounting for discriminatory factors, physicians whose customer base pay with Medicaid usually earns less than employer insured customers. Other factors that affect pay is the number of hours worked and whether a physician is in private practice or work out of a clinic. Male doctors over 55 earn 27% more than their female counterparts. However, this gap in pay decreases to 18% for physicians under 34.
Unfortunately, the difference in pay does not discriminate only based on specialization. Women earn less than men regardless of specialty. One possible explanation could be the choice of specialty; women tend to choose lower paying specialties. When it comes to race, Black Physicians typically work as primary care physicians as opposed to a medical specialist. Ironically, states with smaller populations tend to earn more than states with denser populations. For example, North Dakota physicians make more than physicians in New York.
Exclusion of Black Patients from Drug Trials
Black patients are disproportionately less likely to be included in research examining the effects of diabetes. African American’s rates of diabetes are 2X higher than whites. The FDA’s requirement that new glucose lowering drugs for diabetes test for cardiovascular safety, which are likely gender and ethnicity specific.
Blacks exclusion from drug trials calls into question the drugs effectiveness and possible side effects on a population of people who experience diabetes in greatest numbers. Once new drugs therapies come online, they are not likely to work the same on Black patients, could cause complication and present different side effects than those witness during their trial.
New drugs tend to be expensive. Therefore it is important to know how these new expensive therapies will work. Additionally, heart disease also affect Black people at a higher rate than Whites, all the more reason to include Blacks during trials for diabetes that examines possible cardiovascular side effects.
The Journal of Neuroscience along with Pennsylvania University published a new report detailing that commercial brain training programs (like Lumosity) does not improve neural activity or make you smarter. Researchers did not find the “Brain Programs” to improve cognitive performance like memory or attention compared to playing a regular video game. They also did not discover signs of improved brain activity or decision making abilities.
The best way to improve mental health remains the cheapest and easiest to do walking. A simple 30 minute walk has been shown to boost mental acuity and improve cognitive function consistently.
Calorie restrictive diets can affect memory and cause mental confusion if prolonged. Poor and inadequate sleep patterns can also lead to cognitive decline in old age and affect one’s ability to think rationally, as well as hinder learning patterns.
Researchers encourage actively learning something new regularly; completing crossword or jigsaw puzzles or Sudoku to keep the brain functioning a full capacity.