A Phenomenological Investigation of African American Women's Views on the United States of America's Healthcare System

Allison N Hotz, Tennessee State University


African American Women experience racial discrimination throughout their life course, and its effects result in complex trauma, cultural mistrust of the healthcare system, and preventable chronic illness. The evolving stereotypes and targeting of Black women are evidence of the pervasiveness of racism. Present in the healthcare infrastructure is the Angry Black woman and Strong Black woman stereotypes, which has created a shortage of social justice efforts towards eliminating healthcare disparities and exposing inadequate provision of medical care. Highlighting the challenges that Black women encounter in their medical care contributed to the existing research. This study hoped to inspire momentum towards creating strategic and realistic plans to resolve healthcare disparities, acknowledge systemic flaws, and for clinicians to check repressed biases. Black women in this study shared their experiences with systemic racism in their medical treatment. Specifically, the results showed that implicit bias, discrimination, and stereotyping, all of which resulted in a negative impact on psychological and physical wellbeing over an extended period. The majority of participants reported episodes of anxiety, anger, depression, and gaslighting. All participants discussed their experiences battling the high-pain threshold, Strong Black Woman, and Angry-Black Woman stereotypes when dealing with the healthcare system. A consistent and supportive stereotype was the Strong Black woman, which was endorsed as a means of protection from provider discrimination and anticipated harm. The Strong Black Woman image enhanced participants’ odds of survival. All participants identified as Strong Black Women and shared that the adoption of strength is a cultural responsibility. Future research should continue to investigate Black women’s experiences in the healthcare system. Black women shared their needs and desire for advocacy in their medical care. If White providers worked on repressed biases and leaned in towards allyship, this could be a foundational step towards closing the healthcare disparity gap.

Subject Area

Physiological psychology|Public health|Medicine|Health care management|Pastoral Counseling|African American Studies|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Allison N Hotz, "A Phenomenological Investigation of African American Women's Views on the United States of America's Healthcare System" (2022). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI28543631.