Health Issues of Hispanic People

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The United States continues to be a melting pot of cultures and is home to a variety of ethnic populations. Because of the existing cultural diversity, health care professionals are required to be educated about different cultures and provide treatment that is specific and considerate of a patient’s cultural background.

As of July 2015, the Hispanic population in the United States is the nation’s largest ethnic minority group; they comprise about 17.6% of the nation’s total population (Yafai, 2015). The term “Hispanic” is broad and refers to many different groups of people who may share a similar history and culture (Yafai, 2015). Hispanic Americans come from a variety of backgrounds and national origins but also do share significant similarities that link these populations of different origins together to be deemed as one unifying term “Hispanic.” The term “Hispanic” stems from a history of colonization in the United States and today this term includes a variety of different groups of people from Central and South America (Giordano, McGoldrick, & Garcia-Preto, 2005, pg.154). It is important to note, as McGoldrick does, that Hispanic and Latino people existing in their country of origin would not refer to themselves as Hispanic or Latino and instead refer to themselves from and show pride for their country of origin (Giordano, McGoldrick, & Garcia-Preto, 2005, pg. 154).

Within the general Hispanic culture, language, family, and the hope for a better life are important factors of cultural context that should be considered in any medical diagnoses and treatment. Hispanics tend to have strong family values and more often than not will have almost 3 generations of families living together and have family nearby as well (Yafai, 2015). Regarding language, the use of Spanish in America has increased because of the migrant Hispanic population growth (Lopez & Barrera, 2013). 95% of Hispanic adults who are immigrants as well as those who are born in the U.S have indicated that passing on their culture and language are important to them (Lopez & Barrera, 2013). Hispanic children are often taught and become fluent in Spanish as well as English. In terms of health care, for Hispanic immigrants, we can expect that children might become an important bridge in communication between health care professionals and immigrant Hispanic adults.

Since 1970s, the number of Hispanic migrants, particularly Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans, have increased, in turn, to improve their socioeconomic situation (Ruiz,1985). Like many other ethnic groups that have migrated to the United States from their country of origin, Hispanic immigrants do the same to find a better life for themselves. However, they do tend to be disproportionately affected by social factors (Velasco-Mondragon et. al, 2016). These factors are known as social determinants of health (SDH) which highlights health inequalities affecting certain socioeconomic subgroups (Velasco-Mondragon et. al, 2016). In particular for Hispanics, these SDH factors tend to be linked to their employment, immigrant, or undocumented status (Velasco-Mondragon et. al, 2016). Because of this, they tend to have decreased access to health care which puts them in a position to be more at risk for certain diseases.

The Hispanic population tends to have high risk factors for heart disease and cancer and tend to die more from diabetes and chronic liver disease as compared to non-Hispanic whites (CDC, 2015). They are also at risk for obesity and tobacco use as well as other health risks (Velasco-Mondragon et. al, 2016). Some of the major issues regarding seeking out health care is tied to language barriers as well as being educated about diseases and treatments. Hospitals tend to lack trained interpreters and have to rely on other bilingual staff or the patient’s children which makes communication and educating the patient about disease and treatment becomes difficult. Recent illegal migrants might also tend to avoid hospitals altogether and seek alternative options because of a fear of deportation. Even legal immigrants may seek alternative options because of long standing cultural beliefs in herbal medicine and other healing traditions (Juckett, 2013). These traditions are passed down from generation to generation within families which can potentially deter Hispanics that are also born in the United States from receiving medical care.

Focusing on one particular major risk factor for Hispanics, like Type II Diabetes, we can observe a lack of self-management of diabetes can be attributed to language barriers influencing their understanding of how to self-manage diabetes in the first place. It can also be linked to waiting too long before seeking out medical care. Engaging in culturally sensitive training for staff, hiring more Hispanic staff, and keeping bilingual pamphlets are all ways to start building trust between health care professionals and Hispanic patients (Juckett, 2013). Educating the patients and their families about their options for coverage which can be possible through the Affordable Care Act are also ways to help them get access to the care they need (Velasco-Mondragon et. al, 2016). In the case of diabetes, while the patient may be undergoing disease related issues, educating families is also important so the patient will have support when changing their diet and exercise or administering medication. Emphasizing family support can be another way to promote improvement in a Hispanic patient. Because Hispanic families tend to be close knit, educating the families can also start a discussion of preventative care for other family members.

Health care professionals should be aware and culturally sensitive of different groups of people. In particular, for Hispanic people, being aware and understanding of potential language barriers and health coverage problems is the first step in attempting to eliminate these barriers. By training health care professionals to be culturally sensitive, hiring more bilingual staff and interpreters, and keeping information pamphlets about disease and insurance written in their language are all ways health care professionals can create a bond with Hispanic patients. By reducing language barriers, health care professionals can educate Hispanic patients and families about disease which can improve holistic management and even start preventative care.

Cite this paper

Health Issues of Hispanic People. (2021, Jul 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/health-issues-of-hispanic-people/

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