Research shows health disparities among African Americans aged 50+ in South Carolina


HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – New research reveals health disparities among African Americans 50-years and older in South Carolina.

Jo Pauling-Jones, Associate State Director Outreach and Advocacy at AARP South Carolina, is among advocates who have watched loved ones suffer first hand.

“I know someone, my sister, who is over the age of 50. She contracted COVID-19, she had underlying health conditions and was tremendously impacted,” Pauling-Jones said.

The two-part research project conducted by AARP of South Carolina, South Carolina Aging Research Network, Clemson University Institute for Engaged Aging, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, and the Medical University of South Carolina Center on Aging looks to develop strategies and address concerns.

The goal is to understand better how the lack of resources, socially and economically, impacts African Americans’ health disparities in older populations.

Phase one of the research project concluded poor housing, homelessness, unsafe neighborhoods and lack of transportation contributed to health disparities in this population.

It also revealed African Americans are contracting diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s and chronic diseases at a higher rate.

Cheryl Dye, founding director of the Clemson University Institute for Engaged Aging and professor emeritus in Clemson’s Department of Public Health Sciences, said the group examined 14 leading causes of morbidity and mortality and eight social determinants of health.

“Of those 14 causes of morbidity and mortality, African Americans aged 50 and older in South Carolina suffered disparities in 12. Then as we examined the social determinants of health—the eight we looked at—older South Carolinian African Americans suffered disparities in seven,” Dye said.

The call for advocacy has become louder during the pandemic following recent research showing this population is dying at a higher rate of COVID-19 than others.

“Because I have that personal firsthand experience, it empowers me to do all I can to inform the public about what they can do to take responsibility for their health, myself included,” Pauling Jones said.

The second phase of this research will launch this spring.

Researchers will interview African Americans 50 and old most affected and gather information from their experience and perspective.

“We know that getting good information out to people about health disparities will give them the information they need to make informed choices,” Pauling-Jones said.

To access the full report on ‘Health Disparities: South Carolina Non-Hispanic Blacks Aged 50+,’ click here.

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