Culture and Health Care the Research Paper

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6% of the respondents stated that this was what they did. This number however is not reflected in lower numbers for life style disease and so it must be given greater scrutiny at another time (See table below).

Fruit and vegetable consumption by ethnicity

Lifestyle diseases

There are a number of diseases and health conditions that have been linked to life style behaviors and belief systems. The prevalence of these diseases demonstate that while persons may report a certain behavior emperical evidence suggests that another behavior may be taking place. This may occur principally because respondents may over estimate what they do on a daily basis since they are not taking active records of their behaviors.

On several indicators African-Americans have higher rates of the disease and death as a consequency than White populations. The data for diabetes shows that African-Americans are twice as likely to report having diabetes than white Americans. African-Americans also have higher rates of death associated with diabetes than White Americans (See Tables below).

Deaths due to diabetes by Race/Ethnicity

Smoking is a risk factor for multiple illnesses. African-Americans report slightly higher rates of smoking than white Americans. However when this is combined with other factors that are related to SES it becomes a powder keg. Twenty point seven percent of the African-American respondents reported that they engaged in smoking while, 19.7% of the White respondents did the same thing.

Smoking status and ethnicity

This picture is made clearer when the data on exercise and hypertension is included in the frame. Close to 30% of the African-American respondents stated that they did not exercise on a regular basis. The figures for hypertension is not encouraging as 35.3% stated that they have hypertension. The senario becomes more lethal when we add to the picture the figures for obesity. 19.3% of the respondents reported that a medical pracitioner reccomended that they lose weight for health reasons, while 68.3% of the respondents were overweight. The picture is not a pleasant one. When all the variables are combined the lifestyle factors to which there is a strong cultural component has the capacitiy to seriously diminsh health for this population (See tables below).

Exercise and Ethnicity

Hypertension and Ethnicity

Weight loss and ethnicity

Overweight and ethnicity

This population is prone therefore to specific kinds of illnesses. These illnesses can be linked to lifestyle or elements of the non-material culture. A little of 50% of the adults in a () study reported visiting the dentist annually. This action suggests that either they do not see this as necessary or they do not have the finance to do so. It may also be a combination of both factors simultaneously. However, it does suggest that an education program is necessary to deal with persons who do not believe that dental visits are necessary and, also to engage partners in the support of this action (See table below).

Adults >18 visited the dentist between 2002-2008

Deaths that are linked to drug use are demonstrable higher among black communites than any other community (See Table below). These deaths are an indication of the failure to access appropraite medical care when it became necessary. The individual may be too high to do so or more likely they lacked the appropraicte social network that would be able to ensure that they get the necessary care. Again a useful intervention at this point will be ensuring that there are programs in the neighbourhood that address drug useage. Controversal programs such as needle exchange may find disfavor with a highly religious and conservative population. These programs have worked in European countries to reduce the numbers of deaths assoicated with drug usage along with the reduction in the transmission of disease through shared needles.

Deaths due to drug related causes trend by race/ethnicity 1999-2005

Cervival cancer rates among African-American communites remain higher than all other communites (see chart below). Cervical cancer is linked to HPV. The steps necessary to combat the spread of cervical cancer include early vaccination of women and limiting the number of partners an individual has. Both steps have a relationship to SES and to cultural values. What may be necessary here is a multipronged approach to address these issues.

Cervical cancer rates

Possibly the most distressing element of the data is the data relating to HIV and AIDS. The data clearly shows that African-American populations have higher infection rates and higher death rates. The infection rates can be linked to practices within the community. These practices involve the failure to practice safe sex because of the lack of education on safe sexual practices. It is linked to the higher rates of drug use and consequently the sharing of contaminated needles that is prevelant in the community.

The death rates are disturbing because the incidences of death far outstrip all other ethnic groups and while there has been a decline the size of the problem is still disturbing. It is clear that there is an immediate need for some type of intervention that deals with sexual behavior and sexual education.

Incidence of HIV and AIDS by Race/Ethnicity

Deaths due to HIV disease and Race/Ethnicity

Summary and Analysis

The African-American community is a community plagued by multiple health concerns and lacking health solutions. The community has a lower life expectancy than the White population. This is combined with poorer health practices and less available income to make the necessary investment in diet and visits to a doctor. This means that the group may develop health care practices that are focused on staying alive rather than promoting good health. When the concept of faith healing is factored into the model, it is possible that individuals will depend heavily on the spiritual than on the medical.

This dependence on the spiritual in its multiple manifestations is not an act of defeat but rather a legitimate response to the challenging economic conditions. Faith communities develop a discourse that applauds what God does thorough the work of miracles. These miracles are considered to occur without the help of medical professionals and modern science. This subtle denial of the value of science can become a hindrance to finding suitable assistance but it is also a reaction to existing economic realities. The poor need to find a way to survive and be mentally sound. Religion provides that type of sedation and balance.

The implications for the medical profession is clear in that there will be greater numbers of persons who are resistant to certain types of treatment unless they receive the green light from a religious authority. The attempts to stem the tide of HIV and AIDS will be met with resistance since scientific evidence is seen as being at odds with directives from a divine source. Medical professionals need to be more sensitive to the role belief and poverty play in the decision making of individuals. It may also be critical that medical professionals find the time to give back to depressed communities through practice and lectures. These mechanism will provide avenues for the suspicion to be dispelled and for both groups to generate a greater appreciation of each other.


A religious portrait of African-Americans (2009) Retrieved from

Department of health and senior services New Jersey. (2011).

Dowd, K. (1996). Dietary patterns and physical activity among New Jersey adults. Center for health Statistics 1(3):1-4.

Ferraro, K.F., & Farmer, M.M. (1996). Double Jeopardy to Health Hypothesis for African

Americans: Analysis and Critique Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 37(1):27-43.

Lichtenstein, B.(2004). Caught at the Clinic: African-American Men, Stigma, and STI Treatment

in the Deep South. Gender and Society 18(3):369-388.

New Jersey State health assessment data (2011). Retrieved from

Starfield, B, Shi L. & Macinko J.(2005). Contribution of Primary Care to Health Systems and Health. The Milbank Quarterly, 83(3)457-502.

Stowe, S.M. (2004). Sharla M. Fett. Working Cures: Healing, Health, and Power on Southern

Slave Plantations. The American Historical Review, 109(1):189-190


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