Posted on September 8, 2023

New Black Health-Care Provider Directory Aims to Improve Access to Doctors for Black Canadians

Olivia Bowden, CBC, September 7, 2023

A new directory of Black health-care professionals across Canada launched Thursday, and creators of the database say its goal is to help improve access to practitioners for Black Canadians who often struggle to find providers who understand their backgrounds.

The directory was created by the Black Healthcare Professionals Network, an organization founded in 2021 to advance the careers of Black professionals working in health care and engage in advocacy.

Dr. Nikolai Whyte, the network’s co-founder and managing director, says the organization wanted to launch the directory not only too increase access to providers, but to build a network between professionals.


Health-care providers voluntarily sign up for the directory and are vetted to ensure their licences are in good standing, the network says. {snip}


Whyte says the directory is especially important in light of research showing that for Black people, health-care outcomes can be dependent on the race of both the provider and the patient. The network points to research published by the Association of American Medical Colleges that indicates Black patient experiences improved with doctors of the same race. Pairing Black patients with doctors who are also Black helps to combat medical racism that has sometimes occurred when Black people are treated by white providers, according to the research

One study in particular, led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, found that in a survey of 1,300 Black men in California, patients assigned to a Black doctor were more likely to bring up specific health concerns that they were not speaking about with other doctors.

Researchers suggested the patients may have been more comfortable opening up to Black physicians as they were made to feel more “at ease.”


Adding to that, many in racialized communities have a distrust of the health-care system, and may avoid care because of it, said Whyte. In 2022, the Canadian Medical Association journal acknowledged anti-Black racism in Canadian health care is an issue and noted racial stereotypes have led to poor delivery of care, fuelling distrust in the system.

The journal acknowledged its engaged in harmful practices, including a lack of Black experts being represented in the journal.