In 2016, the Black Women’s Health Imperative in the US published a really interesting report on black women’s health entitled IndexUS: What Healthy Black Women Can Teach Us About Health.
This report is the first comparative index on black women’s health based on healthy black women. It provides:
- Practical tips to help black women improve their health
- Recommendations for political and civic leaders on how to improve the health of black women
- An explanation as to why the health of black women is important.
This report was birthed out of the BWHI’s desire to change the negative narrative on black women’s health based on data from the Black Women’s Health Study which showed, yes, there are challenges when it comes to the health of black women, but actually there is much to celebrate.
The Black Women’s Health Study is a research project based at Boston University which over the past 20 years has been exploring the health and well-being of black women and comparing this to that of white women. It is a fairly large study with 59,000 black women taking part.
As data has been made available from the study, the results have been constantly negative with the prevailing message being that black women’s health is worse than white women’s, this may be true, but the BWHI asked researchers if there were any positive messages from their research. Looking back at the data it was found that over 50% of participants in the Black Women’s Health Study described their health as good or excellent. Of this the BHWI said:
“That is something to celebrate! Black women exercise, we eat healthy, we’re educated and we work hard. It’s time to change the narrative. It’s time for our story to be told in a way that shows who we really are when it comes to our health. We do not see ourselves as broken—stressed, yes, but not broken. We are inherently strong, resilient and passionate about our health. We are not defined by disease, obesity or poverty.”
Armed with this information the BWHI then analysed the data from these healthy women in the Black Women’s Health Study to understand their lifestyles and what makes them healthy. Based on their analysis and findings they prepared their report ‘IndexUS: What Healthy Black Women Can Teach Us About Health.’ From this work the BWHI was able to establish a set of factors that were predictive of good physical and mental health in black women which they summarised in the image on the right.
The BWHI are currently conducting a series of listening events across the US that will allow for honest conversations about black women’s health and based on these conversations they will update IndexUS. To find out more about the listening events you can visit their website here
IndexUS is a very interesting and useful report and we encourage all black women to read it; the report can be accessed on the BWHI’s website here