Health & Wellness

There are significant differences in the presence of disease and health outcomes between African Americans (and other African diaspora peoples) and whites in the Seattle/King County region of Washington. Research indicates that the disparities observed are attributable in large measure to race when other variables such as socioeconomic status are controlled for. The health among Seattle’s African American’s appear in two main areas; Access to health care and Quality of health care.

Access to health care issues include, lack of health insurance and barriers in health care financing and delivery, lack of a regular source of health care, lack of financial resources, structural barriers such as poor transportation, no childcare, and conflict with employment. Health literacy can become an obstacle, along with poor representation of African Americans in health the health care workforce. Poor access (especially for seniors and children) is also an issue.

Quality health care concerns may include problems with patient-provider communication, provider discrimination, or lack of preventive care.

Specific health problems of Seattle’s African American population (Public Health-Seattle & King County), these include documented disease and life style health problems where African Americans in Seattle have relatively high or disproportionate rates include; Oral health (especially among youth), avoidable hospitalization, asthma and asthma hospitalization, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, fire arms injuries, heart disease, diabetes, infant mortality, low birth weight, and late or no parental care (none beginning in third trimester) among many others.

Leading causes of death among African Americans in King County by rank (Washington State Department of Health, 1999-2003) rate per 100,000 in parentheses:

  1. Heart disease (250.1)

6.   Chronic lower respiratory disease (36.6)

  1. Cancer (229.1)

7.   Alzheimer’s disease (28.5)

  1. Stroke (80.0)

8.   Homicide (18.3)

  1. Diabetes (64.1)

9.   Conditions of perinatal period (8.7)

  1. Unintended injury (33.8)



African American Life Expectancy, King County, 2003 (Public Health – Seattle & King County):

African American female, 78.1 years; African American male, 71.5 years; White female, 82.6; White male, 78.3