In the United States (US), Black-particularly Black female-healthcare workers are more likely to hold occupations with high job demand, low job control with limited support from supervisors or coworkers and are more vulnerable to job loss than their white counterparts. These work-related factors increase the risk of hypertension. This study examines the extent to which occupational segregation explains the persistent racial inequity in hypertension in the healthcare workforce and the potential health impact of workforce desegregation policies. We simulated a US healthcare workforce with four occupational classes: health diagnosing professionals (i.e., highest status), health treating professionals, healthcare technicians, and healthcare aides (i.e., lowest status). We simulated occupational segregation by allocating 25-year-old workers to occupational classes with the race- and gender-specific probabilities estimated from the American Community Survey data. Our model used occupational class attributes and workers' health behaviors to predict hypertension over a 40-year career. We tracked the hypertension prevalence and the Black-white prevalence gap among the simulated workers under the staus quo condition (occupational segregation) and the experimental conditions in which occupational segregation was eliminated. We found that the Black-white hypertension prevalence gap became approximately one percentage point smaller in the experimental than in the status quo conditions. These findings suggest that policies designed to desegregate the healthcare workforce may reduce racial health inequities in this population. Our microsimulation may be used in future research to compare various desegregation policies as they may affect workers' health differently.
The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s41996-022-00098-5.