Throughout the world, there are diverse cultures with unique practices and beliefs that influence their approaches to healthcare. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to understand the specific health care needs of different cultural groups in order to provide culturally competent care. This formal paper aims to explore the health care needs of a selected cultural group and examine the literature available on this topic. The selected cultural group for this study is the Hispanic population in the United States.
Background of the Hispanic Population in the United States
The term “Hispanic” refers to individuals who have origins in Spanish-speaking countries, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, among others. The Hispanic population is the largest minority group in the United States, accounting for approximately 18% of the total population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). This population is known for its diverse cultural practices, values, and beliefs, which significantly influence their healthcare needs.
Healthcare Needs of the Hispanic Population
It is essential to understand the healthcare needs of the Hispanic population in order to provide appropriate and effective care. Research has shown that this population faces several unique health challenges, including higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity compared to other racial and ethnic groups (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
Barriers to Healthcare Access
The Hispanic population faces various barriers to accessing healthcare services. One significant barrier is language. Many Hispanics have limited English proficiency, which may impede their ability to communicate effectively with healthcare providers, understand medical information, and navigate the healthcare system. Consequently, this could lead to misunderstandings, misdiagnosis, and reduced access to quality healthcare (Woloshin et al., 1995).
Another barrier is cultural beliefs and traditions. The Hispanic population often relies on traditional healing practices, spiritual beliefs, and home remedies. These cultural practices may influence their decision-making regarding seeking medical care and complying with medical treatments (Arcia et al., 2001). For instance, some Hispanics may prefer herbal remedies over prescribed medications due to a belief in the innate healing properties of natural substances. Additionally, cultural factors, such as the importance of family and community support, can influence their healthcare decisions and adherence to treatment plans (Gallo et al., 2009).
Socioeconomic factors also contribute to healthcare disparities in the Hispanic population. Many Hispanics in the United States have lower socioeconomic status and limited access to health insurance coverage. This lack of financial resources can hinder their ability to seek and afford healthcare services, leading to delayed or inadequate treatment (Flores et al., 2002).
Cultural Competence in Healthcare
Providing culturally competent care requires healthcare professionals to possess knowledge and understanding of a patient’s cultural background. Cultural competence involves not only the provision of linguistically appropriate care but also the incorporation of cultural beliefs, values, and practices into healthcare decision-making processes (Betancourt et al., 2002).
Culturally competent care not only enhances patient satisfaction but also improves health outcomes and reduces disparities in healthcare delivery (Brach & Fraser, 2000). By addressing barriers such as language, cultural beliefs, and socioeconomic factors, healthcare providers can establish trust, improve communication, and deliver care that aligns with the cultural values and needs of the Hispanic population (Gallo et al., 2009).
To better understand the health care needs of the Hispanic population, various studies have explored this topic. One noteworthy study conducted by Arcia et al. (2001) investigated the factors influencing healthcare utilization among Hispanics in the United States. The study found that cultural factors, such as beliefs in traditional healing practices and perceptions of discrimination, significantly impacted Hispanics’ healthcare-seeking behaviors. These findings highlight the importance of considering cultural factors when addressing the healthcare needs of this population.
Another study by Pérez-Escamilla et al. (2009) examined the relationship between food insecurity and diabetes in the Hispanic population. The study revealed that food insecurity was significantly associated with higher rates of diabetes among Hispanics. Understanding this relationship allows healthcare providers to address food insecurity as part of holistic diabetes management strategies for the Hispanic population.