HEALTH DISPARITIES AFFECTING THE AFRICAN AMERICAN POPULATIONS
African Americans are among the minority ethnic groups in America. Compared to the other ethnic groups, their rate for the development of health disparities has far increased. Initially, they used to engage in many healthy lifestyle methods, but with the increasingly negative health and lifestyle influence for the other ethnic groups, their lifestyle has increased their risk for the development of chronic health disparities. These health disparities include diabetes mellitus, ethnic discrimination, high blood pressure, homicide, coronary heart diseases, stroke, and diabetes mellitus.
With minority groups with different conditions of health, the United States has become quite diverse. This paper focuses on African Americans’ health disparities and their health status. Besides, it will also encompass the adequate methods through which these health disparities can be curbed. It will also include an approach to health promotion that is unique to African Americans’ needs. Implementation procedures for these health promotion approaches will be scrutinized.
The African American ethnicity is well known for its partial embrace of traditional meals and health promotion activities despite the western influence. They usually tend to involve in a lifestyle that is considered best for health promotion. However, there has been an increase in reduced healthy living among African Americans. This has resulted in increased mortality and morbidity rate associated with lifestyle diseases. Since America is quite diversified, the other ethnicities have negatively impacted the healthy living of African Americans. Specific risk factors for ethnicities leading to their overall health are present in all minority groups. Hispanic Americans and non-Hispanic white Americans have more common health problems than any other ethnic group. Compared to African Americans, they are more exposed to cardiac diseases, stroke, cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and killing (CDC, 2016). It has been found that 13.8 percent of African Americans have good or bad health than the national average of 9.1 percent, in a 2014 Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study. The rate of African Americans developing high blood pressure is 40% whereas it is 77% for white Americans to develop diabetes mellitus (CDC, 2016). In African Americans aged 12 or older, illegally consuming drugs was 12.4% compared with a national mean of 10.2%.
For African Americans, obesity is another health issue. The common risk factors for cardiac disease and diabetes are contributed. Compared to the national averages, African Americans have an elevated incidence of obesity. Adult African Americans 20 years old have a 37.5% obesity rate, and females have a 56.1% obesity rate (CDC, 2016). For men of the same age group, the domestic average is 26 percent, and women 31.7 percent (CDC, 2016). Health disparity like obesity, cardiac disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes are all attributed to the negative lifestyle changes that African Americans have embraced. Indulging in high consumption of sodium diet has increased the rate of development of hypertension. Besides, increased consumption of junk food rich in calories has increased the rates of development of diabetes, obesity causing several chronic detrimental cardiovascular diseases.
One of the leading causes of death among African Americans is homicide. A lead epidemiologist for the CDC stated, “Homicide is considered to be the seventh death cause among the blacks. Among blacks of the ages 18 to 34, homicide still remains the leading cause of death while the third leading cause of death among blacks of 35 to 49”. Homicide is often attributed to many psychological factors. Reduced socioeconomic status is a rampant problem affecting the African American populations (Welch, 2017). Thus, they face many setbacks in accessing daily living commodities leading to stress, depression, and even engaging in risky health behaviors like crime and illicit drug abuse. Substance abuse will thus later increase the rate of homicides.
HEALTH DISPARITIES INCREASED AMONG AFRICAN AMERICANS
Among African Americans, the socioeconomic and educational status plays a significant part in their health. These include factors like discrimination, lack of education, poor community conditions, and reduced quality of health care services (CDC, 2016). In 2014, the CDC reported that 26.2% of African Americans were below the poverty level, compared to the national average of 14.8% (CDC, 2016). From statistics, it is evident that men and women who have attained college degrees have a lower chance of developing obesity as compared to those without the attainments (CDC, 2016). Besides, it was observed that obesity tend to increase in individuals with higher socioeconomic status.
Minority groups are less likely to be covered by insurance, including African Americans. Approximately 14% of African Americans under the age of 65 were uninsured in a 2016 CDC report (CDC, 2016). Without proper health insurance, African Americans have reduced access to medical services that results to poor health outcomes.
Discrimination among the African American population contributes to health care barriers. The subtlest prejudice can affect medical mistrust and poor communication between a patient and a medical provider. Discrimination perception is linked to lower medication compliance and a loss of trust among healthcare providers (Huston, 2013). African Americans are more likely to experience race discordance over other minority groups. Nevertheless, African Americans are more satisfied and feel that they receive better care when their health care providers are of the same race.
There have been decades and are in United States health inequalities among minorities. Many inequalities exist amid various programs for the promotion of health and social change. In many chronic illnesses, the African American community runs an elevated risk and has fewer controls than its white, non-Hispanic counterparts. “There is a 40% likelihood for Non-Hispanic blacks to develop high blood pressure than non-Hispanic, and they also are liable to developing complications and health deviations from this condition. Also, among the non-Hispanics, the rate of diagnosed diabetes is 77% higher than in non-Hispanic whites.” It was also found that African Americans had lower life standards (Welch, 2017). In 2014, while the rates of illicit drug use were reported to be higher than the national average, underage drinking accompanied with binge drinking and underage binge drinking under the past one month were found to be reduced than the domestic average. “Compared to African American Caucasian counterparts, they are more liable to getting infected and succumbing to HIV infections. 44% of African Americans were counted for HIV infections in 2010 in the country.”
On many occasions, most African Americans do not prioritize health promotion and approaches that assist in developing chronic diseases. They often ignore preventative health approaches and pave the way for the gradual development of insidious long-term health disparities. ” 30% of African Americans think their health depends on destiny and destiny and only about 50% believe that health is a high priority.” (Noonan, Velasco-Mondragon & Wagner, 2016). Members of this lower socioeconomic status community offer preference on a cost basis and often do not need healthcare. Many of the groups are not looking for treatment if they have no symptoms. Many members believe that the danger is not too severe to seek attention.
Increasing risk of injury and illness arising from occupational exposure; biological, socio-economic, racial and familial causes; cultural and educational values; social relationships between majority and minority groups; and culturally unconscious healthcare structures are some contributing factors for health inequalities (Noonan, Velasco-Mondragon & Wagner, 2016). While many African Americans work, they are less likely to have any form of health insurance, whether it be private, employer-based, or publicly supported. Since they are not covered, a source of routine primary care is not typical for African Americans. African Americans living in urban areas struggle more with overcrowding, insufficient infrastructure, lack of medical transportation, and a high crime rate. The risk of injury or death due to violent crime is also increased in those areas of high criminality and the gap between them and medical centres. In your neighbourhoods or providers, there are often no medical facilities for which it is comfortable. Members of this low-socioeconomic community are also struggling to buy nutritious foods, which can be recommended because of costs and availability in their vicinity. “Language and culture have a profound influence on how patients access services in healthcare and respond to them. African American patients who feel insensitive cannot return to treatment, pursue a new provider, or change their care plans.”
Timing and location in this community are keys to health promotion. Because many members of this group belong to a smaller socioeconomic group and have several jobs, its schedules should sometimes be considered. It can be advantageous for two reasons to use churches to give information. The church leaders are people they trust and listen to in the community, and this is a time when they give priority to work and get to their church. Churches may be used to prevent certain chronically exposed conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, by providing information (Welch, 2017). Clinics to be inspected for these conditions could also be provided with information. Secondary prevention could also be done in these environments by conducting health fairs and screening and monitoring patients for certain chronic conditions. In this community, changes have to be made to promote health effectively. Healthier foods like supermarkets or community gardens in low-income areas have to be easier to access. High crime areas are also restricted to practice because they fear going out. More leisure centres in these communities are needed to provide access to these low-input neighbourhoods. To provide the people of such communities with healthcare, more medical facilities in low revenue areas are also required.
There is a continuing problem in this country with health differences between all minorities. Research is expected to continue. We must all work together to develop the best plan for supporting our patients. For all nurses, cultural training is also essential. All nurses need to communicate with and do the best for their patients. We also need to feel comfortable with our patients so that they continue with their treatment plans. With that in mind, it is necessary always to remember to incorporate advanced health care approaches for this minority group (Welch, 2017). Increasing access to health care should be the top priority when addressing the disparities of this minority group. With the Medicaid insurance at play, there is increased insurance coverage that I believe will help this minority group greatly and ensure that they access health fast enough to stop any disease that is affecting them from developing further.
HOW THESE HEALTH DISPARITIES IMPACT CURRENT AND PERSONAL NURSING PRACTICE?
An increase in nursing care services has been on the merge. With the increasing development of complications due to these health disparities, it has called upon for the nursing care professionals’ advancement to ensure that they can offer health services to this minority ethnic group (Welch, 2017). I have been challenged to improve my competency levels and ensure that I advance in my nursing care profession so that I can be able to deliver improved nursing care services that will help African Americans in safeguarding their health.
Assisting in prevention of these health disparities among the African American population can be tackled from the perspectives of primary prevention, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention focuses on preventing diseases or health conditions before effects of the conditions occur (Mantwill, Monestel-Umaña & Schulz, 2015). Promoting primary prevention helps with the education and awareness of what should be done or could be done to prevent an illness or a disease.
Educational approaches and awareness to communities, schools, and individuals at the level they can best relate and understand within those communities will have the most impact and best health benefits. One way to educate and support health promotion is by using community health fairs. They can influence primary health promotion through preventative education. “Health fairs encourage you to work in a particular group to identify and provide basic education and prevention knowledge on specific health promotion needs. Tests and presentations are excellent ways of supplying a wide population with basic health knowledge and can motivate a society to make healthier decisions for health.” (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH), 2016). These health fairs can include basic health screenings for blood pressure, weight management, maintenance, or physical assessments, helping prevent disease, disability, injury, and premature death. These fairs can also be conducted by other African Americans who were raised, lived, or are involved with African Americans, or other minority, communities to avoid discordance.
ROLES OF NURSES IN HEALTH PROMOTION
With the increasing rates of chronic disease development among this population, it calls upon the assistance of health care providers to help control the health of the vulnerable population. On many occasions, nurses play a vital role in promoting the health of this population. Many of the health disparities affecting this population are chronically developed diseases and diseases that require chronic and intensive care. This means that the type of assistance that nurses will deliver is also long term. First, nurses will play an advocative role for the sake of African American populations. Since nurses interact with the patent is in a closer perspective than any other healthcare provider, they will use this opportunity to assess the prevalent problems that affect this population, analyse them, their impacts, and how much they can be controlled in this population (Mantwill, Monestel-Umaña & Schulz, 2015). After developing the risk factors that affect this population, nurses will present this problem to officials and follow up to develop measures, policies, and protocols that can assist in controlling these factors.
These risk factors can include reduced socioeconomic status, poor diet choices, lack of information regarding promising health promotion approaches, and reduced access to health care services. Curbing these risk factors will reduce the prevalence of mortality and morbidity rates that develop due to these chronic prevalent health disparities affecting the African American populations. Besides, nurses will also play the role of conducting community diagnosis, evaluating the at-risk populations, the risk to which they are exposed, and good referrals or treatment protocols that will suit them. Also, nurses will offer health education through community meetings, use opportunities with patients encounter to teach them about the appropriate health prevention approaches that best suit them, and help them control their health.
Besides, the use of inter-professional approaches will help significantly in curbing the health disparities affecting African Americans. When implementing these approaches, the nurse will first ensure that the minority group has increased health coverage and improves community nursing care services for African Americans to play a part in safeguarding their health (Huston, 2013). Improving resources for the nurses to implement these approaches must be done by the health care organizations and Ministry for health to improve healthcare access to African American communities.
African Americans have many challenging disparities. Furthermore, there are also health-related risk factors specific to their ethnicity. Through primary prevention with education on a level that communities and individuals can understand, there is hope that a higher quality of life is attainable. Same race mentoring can eliminate the possibility of discrimination, along with the mentor being from, or routinely involved, with the community they are educating or mentoring. The ultimate goal would be to educate young communities to prevent common health conditions within the African American population. Besides, improving healthcare coverage among African Americans will place them in an equal position regarding full access to healthcare services with other ethnic groups (Welch, 2017). It is the healthcare sector’s role to assist in improving African Americans’ health; it is the role of all government sectors to help by providing all the required resources, funding’s and all means that can help improve the status of African Americans as well.
Improving the status of this minority group will produce positive aftermath among the other ethnic groups as the development of complications from the non-communicable disease will be reduced, the health care cost will be reduced, the rate of hospital readmissions will be reduced, and the general quality of living will be improved among all ethnic groups.