Strangers are not likely to help black people during a medical emergency according to a study published on April 14 in the American Journal of Public Health. Only one in 39 people, or 2.5 percent, received help from bystanders before emergency healthcare workers arrived, with African-Americans faring worse than others.

Only one in 55 African-Americans got help from strangers. On the other hand, Caucasians were twice more likely than African-Americans to get the help, with 4.2 percent or one in 24 Caucasians receiving more help from strangers regardless of the symptoms they were suffering from.

The research team studied the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) data from 2011 that included almost 22,500 patient data. These are data from forms filled out by emergency medical services providers regarding the type of help and the bystanders who helped the patient before they arrived.


Strangers are more likely to help Caucasians. Photo from Pixabay/skeeze

Moreover, the study reveals that people in the lower-income bracket and highly populated nations are also less likely to receive help. Meanwhile, people from less populated and average-income countries are more likely to get help from bystanders.

The researchers explain that the help from strangers include as simple as offering a glass of water, putting pressure on someone’s wound, covering another with a blanket or helping another with their medications.

The research team believes that the findings may be due to social context differences. In other words, people living in poor neighborhoods tend to have less social support like religious institutions and community organisations that may encourage them to help others.

“When you have a neighborhood environment where people don’t know each other, where people are wary of strangers on the street, and someone needs help right in that moment, people may be more likely to just look away or keep walking without lending a hand,”  says lead author Erin York Cornwell.

The team adds that their findings may add to the increasing disparity in healthcare among different racial groups. If not taken seriously, health disparities may worsen, depriving some groups of people the help they deserve.