Health Promotion in Minority Populations
Ethnicity is a medically relevant factor owing to its influence on one’s vulnerability to certain diseases, such as diabetes, as well as its influence on the age at which a disease occurs, such as breast cancer, which occurs at a relatively younger age in Blacks than in Whites. Poverty rates among ethnic minorities are significantly higher than among dominant racial groups, demonstrating the impact of ethnicity on an individual’s social status (US Census Bureau, 2021).
However, disparities in access to medical care exist across multiple contexts, including residence, gender, and age. The Hispanic population is an ethnic minority group that faces social disadvantages and thus suffers disproportionately from health issues when compared to other dominant racial groups (USDHHS, 2021).
This group, however, is cognizant of their societal status and engages in health promotion activities to improve their physical and psychological health. This paper aims to describe this group in various contexts, such as health disparities, health barriers, health promotion activities, and cultural activities that may influence their health plan.
Description of the Ethnic Minority: Hispanics
In terms of ethnic and racial fragmentation, the United States is very diverse. According to the 2019 US Census Bureau, the Hispanic population accounts for 18.4% of the total population of the United States, or 60.5 million people (US Census Bureau, 2020). The group includes people of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish origins, with Mexicans constituting the majority (61.4%) of the population (US Census Bureau, 2020). More than half (55%) of the US Hispanic population lives in three states: California, Texas, and Florida, with California having the nation’s largest Hispanic population of approximately 145.57 million (World Population Review, 2022).
The statistics further show that 71.1% of Hispanics speak a language other than English (Us Census Bureau, 2020). In terms of health, this population’s life expectancy is 82.1 years, which is slightly higher than the projected 80.6 years for non-Hispanic Whites (Us Census Bureau, 2020). Health in this group is influenced by cultural/language factors, access to preventive healthcare, and a lack of insurance coverage, with statistics showing that 18.7% of the Hispanic population were uninsured by 2019, which is higher than the 6.3% percent of the non-Hispanic population (Us Census Bureau, 2020). The group’s low insurance rates exacerbate its disadvantages in accessing healthcare.
Health Disparities for the Group
The population faces a high burden of health problems, which have been attributed to a variety of factors. Notably, the population uninsurance rate is high, as evidenced by 18.7% of the Hispanic population not having any form of health insurance (US Census Bureau, 2020); this limits their ability to access health services. The population’s educational attainment is far lower when compared to non-Hispanic groups.
According to the US Census Bureau (2020), 70.5% of Hispanics have a high school diploma or higher, compared to 93.3% of non-Hispanics. A Bachelor’s degree or higher is held by 17.6% of Hispanics and 36.9% of non-Hispanics (US Census Bureau, 2020). Because education determines a population’s level of health perception, its low access to care may partly be explained by the low educational attainment.
Moreover, the Hispanic unemployment rate in 2019 was 5.1%, compared to 3.7% in the non-Hispanic population, indicating that Hispanics may have difficulty accessing care due to financial constraints (US Census Bureau, 2020). Heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, stroke, and diabetes are the top five health conditions afflicting Hispanics. Some of these diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, are preventable, highlighting the greater need for improved access to preventive healthcare services.
The Group’s Barriers to Health
The Hispanic population’s limited access to healthcare services results from a combination of cultural, socioeconomic, educational, and sociopolitical factors. The cultural factor includes the group’s language, as the majority of them (71.1%) speak a language other than English (US Census Bureau, 2020). Because the majority of Americans speak English, this language barrier may be an impediment to access to healthcare.
A sociopolitical factor is the constant immigration of Hispanic immigrants into the United States, which exacerbates the language barrier. Education, which statistics show is far lower than in non-Hispanic groups, may also contribute to low access to care, as only people who understand their health are more likely to seek care. Similarly, the group’s socioeconomic status is shown to be low when compared to non-Hispanic groups, influencing their ability to pay for care access. This is exacerbated by high uninsurance rates, which limit their ability to pay for healthcare services.
Health Promotion Activities practiced by the Group.
The population’s high prevalence of preventable diseases makes participation in health promotion activities critical. However, while this group does engage in some health promotion activities, it does so in a very limited capacity. Physical exercise is the most common form of health promotion activity among Hispanics, but this usually occurs to an insufficient extent without them achieving their health goals.
According to Murillo et al. (2021), Hispanic men and women engage in less regular physical activity (41.9%, 40.5%) than their non-Hispanic counterparts (52.3%, 49.6%). Further, since they have higher rates of obesity than non-Hispanic groups, they are advised to watch their diet and reduce risk behaviors such as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. As regards the US Census Bureau (2020), Hispanics have a higher rate of low-birth-weight infants than non-Hispanics, and thus aggressive health promotion activities, such as exclusive breastfeeding, would help avoid many health problems in children.
Primary Health Promotion for the Minority Group
A thorough examination of the Hispanic population’s health issues may lead to health education as the most effective intervention for health promotion. Education must focus on the targeted population, which in this case is Hispanics, and messages must be created to appeal to people of all ages. Alternatively, each age group can be addressed separately, requiring segmentation into children, adolescents, and adults.
Educating the public about the importance of the American Heart Association’s 150 minutes of physical activity per week, proper diet, and risk behavior avoidance will go a long way toward lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer (AHA, 2018).
Secondary health promotion activities would include screening the elderly population for diabetes, hypertension, and cancer and initiating early treatment. In contrast, tertiary approaches would include aggressive management of existing disease to prevent its progression, such as surgical excision of tumors.
Cultural Beliefs and Practices to consider in developing a Care Program
Hispanics take pride in their strong sense of identity and cultural beliefs, which heavily influence their decisions. This group places a high value on the family, which they see as the source of the continued existence and generational transmission of values and beliefs. The elderly members of the family are entrusted with making decisions on behalf of others. As a result, care providers must involve senior members of the family when developing a care plan for the family. Another scenario is when a family member becomes ill but only speaks non-English languages and requires translation; another family member can do the translation.
Minority ethnic groups face several challenges that have an impact on their health. Hispanics are a quintessence of an ethnic minority group, with social, economic, educational, and political disadvantages that limit their overall access to health care. Poor access to preventive health services among Hispanics reflects the soaring rates of obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases. While some Hispanics recognize the value of physical activity in health promotion, they are yet to meet the American Hearts Association’s recommended levels. This highlights the increased importance of educational health promotion strategies in broadening the population’s understanding of health.
American Heart Association. (2018). American heart association recommendations for physical activity in adults and kids. Www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
Murillo, R., Vazquez, M., Leal, I. M., Hernandez, D. C., Lu, Q., & Reitzel, L. R. (2021). Perceptions and barriers to physical activity in childhood and adulthood among Latinas. Health Behavior and Policy Review, 8(4), 294–304. https://doi.org/10.14485/hbpr.8.4.2
US Census Bureau. (2020). The Hispanic Population in the United States: 2019. https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2019/demo/hispanic-origin/2019-cps.html
US Census Bureau. (2021). Inequalities persist despite decline in poverty for all major race and Hispanic origin groups. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/09/poverty-rates-for-blacks-and-hispanics-reached-historic-lows-in-2019.html
US Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). Office of minority health. Hhs.gov. https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=64
World Population Review. (2022). Hispanic population by state 2022. Worldpopulationreview.com. https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/hispanic-population-by-state