Addressing Cultural Health Care Needs

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Cultural Health Care

ADDRESSING CULTURAL HEALTH CARE NEEDS

Addressing Cultural health Care Needs|

Cultural Health Care

Hispanic and Latino culture make up approximately 11.9% of the total population of

the United States (U.S. Census Bureau 2006) and is considered the largest and fastest

growing subculture in America. The people of Hispanic origin have particular healthcare

needs. They are disproportionately affected by diseases, and are less likely to receive

preventative care. Approximately 23% of Hispanic families live below the poverty line

leaving little opportunity to pay out-of-pocket expenses for health care.

Hispanics’ access to health care is limited both by choice and availability of services

(Bastable 2010). The centrality of family in Hispanic culture has made it the most

important source of social support for its members. With this in mind, treating the patient

often means treating the family. So, how does one effectively treat members of differing

cultural backgrounds? Low socioeconomic status, language barriers, and

disproportionately high risk factors provide challenges to effective communication,

continuity of care, and treatment compliance. Developing an effective means of

communication and outcome assessment is essential when working with people of

different cultures, but understanding their belief system and how it may benefit or impede

the result is most important if truly adequate standards of care are to be met.

When assessing a patient of Hispanic origin one should always consider a few

general suggestions: (1)Target education to meet their specific ethnic need. (2) Be aware

of individual differences in age, education, income levels, job status, and years of

acculturation. (3) Consider health risks of the Hispanic culture, such as disproportionately

high incidence of diabetes, HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, obesity, hypertension, alcohol
related illness, and homicide. (4) High importance on family make it necessary to include

the entire family in education and remember that the males in the family are generally the

decision makers. (5) Provide adequate space for teaching to accommodate participating

family members. (6) Recognize the importance of the Roman Catholic religion among

Hispanics when discussing family planning, contraception, and abortion. (7) Take the

time to learn about Hispanic health beliefs and ethnic values. (8) Consider other sources

of care Hispanics may use for treatment, such as home remedies. (9) Modesty among

Hispanic women and girls could make them uncomfortable if discussing sexual issues in

mixed company. (10) Display friendliness and tactfulness to convey an interest in their

wellbeing. (11) Determine whether Spanish is the best language for communication, both

verbal and written. (12) Speak slowly and avoid the use of technical terms. (13) Do not

assume understanding. Have patients repeat explanations and demonstrate technique

whenever possible. (14) Using a professional health care interpreter is best when

language barriers exist. (15) Always provide written and audiovisual materials in Spanish

and ensure it reflects the linguistic appropriateness and cultural sensitivity (Bastable

2010).

In order to effectively evaluate people of Hispanic origin for health care education, I

would ask or determine the following:

1. Is Spanish your chosen language, both written and verbal?

2. Would you like to have family members present during visits with your doctor?

3. What do you believe is the cause of your illness/disease?

4....
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