Health Status of African-Americans Detailed in UAMS College of Public Health Report

By Nate Hinkel

That’s just one of many findings detailed in a joint study focusing on the health status of African-Americans in Arkansas compiled by UAMS and supported by the Arkansas Minority Health Commission (AMHC), the Arkansas Center for Health Disparities and the Arkansas Prevention Research Center. The full report can be found here: or

The report includes sections on demographics, socio-economic characteristics, morbidity and mortality rates, maternal and child health factors, behavioral risks and access to care.

“This comprehensive study documenting the burden of disease in the African-American population in Arkansas is a great resource to identify key areas of success and improvement,” said Martha Phillips, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAMS College of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. “We see this as a great jumping-off point for future research and interventions that can make a significant difference in this important Arkansas demographic.”

Education is a key indicator of positive health outcomes, Phillips said, as higher levels of education are genuinely positively associated with economic success and inversely associated with unemployment. It is also linked to many positive health outcomes, such as higher life expectancy and better health quality for educated parents’ children. In addition, it leads to increased health knowledge, better working conditions and increased social and economic resources. The report identified that nearly 21.5 percent of African-Americans 25 years of age and over had less than a high school education, compared to 14.2 percent of Caucasians. It also pointed to a large gap in median incomes, with African-Americans averaging $23,839 and Caucasians earning $41,343. That leads to a 34 percent poverty rate compared to 14 percent, respectively.

“There are many areas that stand out as significant contributing factors to the health of African-Americans in Arkansas,” said Idonia Trotter, executive director of the AMHC. “This report confirms those links and identifies areas that we’d like to help make strides toward improving. A healthy Arkansas relies on decreasing disparities from both health and socioeconomic standpoints, and this report helps identify starting points to intervene.”

Over the past several years, according to the report, African-Americans were told they had asthma, diabetes and hypertension at higher rates than Caucasians, while the roles were reversed for heart disease and heart attack rates. African-Americans were also more likely to be obese (83 percent) than Caucasians (66 percent) while they were also 26 percent more likely to have Medicaid coverage.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 775 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or