Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority group and there are estimated to be about 54 million living in the United States (Office of Minority Health & Health Equity, YEAR). The Hispanics are a minority group that struggle every day to survive, to provide for their families, to stay healthy and to live quality lives. This paper will discuss the Hispanics current health status, how health promotion is defined by the Hispanics and what health disparities exist for the Hispanics. Lastly, this paper will discuss the three levels of health prevention and their effectiveness given the unique needs of the Hispanics. The Current Health Status of Hispanics
How would one define health status? An individual health status could be defined by someone observing another and gathering information about that person and coming to a conclusion on the facts that were gathered. It is much harder to define the health status of a population. One way to define the health status of an entire population would be to consider the health of the population, their lifespan, the extensiveness of preventable diseases or deaths and the availability of health services that can be used as an indication of their health status (National Center for Health Statistics: Health). Some health problems that the Hispanics face today are heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic liver disease, cancer, asthma, obesity and tobacco use. Cardiac disease is the main cause of death for all ethnic groups in the United States and some risk factors include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and smoking. In comparing the Hispanics to non-Hispanic white people, Hispanics have higher rates of diabetes and obesity, whereas, they have lower rates of smoking than that of non-Hispanic white people (Escarce, Morales, Rumbaut, 2006).
The socioeconomic status of the Hispanic also plays a role in their health status. The Hispanics socioeconomic status is their social standing which can be evaluated by their education, by how much money they make and by what type of work they do. The socioeconomic status determines who they are as a person, a community or a population. This writer believes that the Hispanics health status and their socioeconomic status go hand in hand. If they are unable to obtain stable high paying jobs, then they are unable to provide for their families or obtain good medical care for themselves. How do we as healthcare workers incorporate health promotion within the Hispanic community? Hispanics and Health Promotion
Health promotion is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the process which helps people take control over the determining factors of their health which in turn will help to improve their health. With multiple determining factors of health, health promotion means working between the community and health care professionals to effectively educating the Hispanics (Journal of Cultural Diversity, 2012). “Health promotion is carried out by and with people, not on or to people” (Journal of Cultural Diversity, 2012). We as educators must have respect and not discriminate against the Hispanic population but work with them to teach them how to live healthier lives. Healthy People 2020 states that it is their dream to have a culture where all people live long, healthy lives. Health promotion means addressing the health disparities of the Hispanics so they can experience positive health outcomes.
Health Disparities of the Hispanics
Fear is the biggest health disparity among the Hispanic community. Fear involves three areas which are: expenses, language barriers, and discrimination and immigration status; and cultural disconnect (Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, 2013). They face the fear of having to choose between paying for a doctor or providing for food, rent, electricity and other familial expenses or they wait until they are really ill to seek help. Fear also involves language barriers and discrimination, they are ridiculed and made to feel that they don’t matter and when they do go to a doctor they are afraid of being reported for being an immigrant.
Thirdly, cultural disconnect is described as many of the Hispanic population use home remedies or medicinal herbs to treat or cure some of their diseases and because of this they are afraid to tell their medical provider for fear of shame and ridicule. Fear is a way of life for the Hispanics. This leads this writer to ask; how would one approach these disparities using the three levels of health promotion prevention that would be the most effective, given the unique needs of the Hispanic population? Three Levels of Health Promotion Prevention
The three levels of health promotion prevention are primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary prevention is a goal to help protect healthy people from developing a disease. Some ways to do this would be to educate the Hispanics about good health hygiene, exercising regularly and avoiding alcohol, tobacco products, and drugs. They need to be educated to have regular exams and screening tests done to help monitor for risk factors and immunizations are also important to have to help prevent infectious diseases. Secondary prevention is important because it helps to identify and treat Hispanics that have already developed risk factors but are asymptomatic. Even though there are no signs and symptoms showing it is important to perform screenings and educate them how to develop a healthy lifestyle and to help the patient take the necessary steps to keep the disease from developing further.
Lastly, Tertiary prevention involves caring for someone with a long-term disease while helping them to restore themselves to the highest quality of life possible. Some examples would be cardiac rehab, chronic pain management clinics or support groups. This writer believes that the most effective use of health prevention is the use of all three; primary, secondary and tertiary. An example of using all three preventions would be when teaching a family about obesity. If the parents are obese, we can work with the parents and teach them how to cook nutritionally healthy meals and eat properly, then the parents can in turn teach their children.
Thus, we are beginning at the top and empowering those that can teach others how to eat nutritionally. If one parent has Type II Diabetes then teaching that parent about nutrition would be tertiary, teaching the second parent who doesn’t have Diabetes but is also obese is using secondary prevention, and then reaching the children through the parents is primary prevention. This writer believes that this type of health promotion prevention would be the most effective choice because we need to start from the top and work down. If you educate the parents, the parents can then educate the children. It has a snowballing effect. Conclusion
In conclusion, this writer has gained a lot of knowledge about the Hispanic culture. Through their current health status and how health promotion is defined, we are able to understand their health disparities. As a healthcare professional we can engage the Hispanic community in educating them about health promotion and prevention, using primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.
About Healthy People. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2015, from
Escarce, J., Morales, L., & Rumbaut, R., (2006). The Health Status and Health Behaviors of Hispanics. National Academy of Sciences
Hispanic or Latino Populations. (2014, November 26). Retrieved January 24, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/
Journal of Health Disparities Research & Practice. (Summer2013, Vol.6 Issue 2, p30-47. 18p). Health Disparity and Structural Violence: How Fear Undermines Health Among Immigrants at Risk for Diabetes. Retrieved from http://library.gcu.edu