Category Archives: Other racial or ethnic groups

Apr 28 2014
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How to Advance Minority Health? A Successful, Sustainable Effort to Promote Healthy Choices in Miami.

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Lillian Rivera, RN, MSN, PhD, administrator/health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County, responds to the question, “Minority health is advanced by combating disparities and promoting diversity. How do these two goals overlap?” Rivera is an alumnus of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program.

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In order to address this question, it is important to identify the areas within your jurisdiction where there are identified health disparities and to develop initiatives with those needs in mind.

Miami-Dade County in Florida is one of the few counties in the United States that is “minority majority,” meaning the minority makes up the majority of the population. More than two-thirds of the 2.5 million residents are Hispanic; 19 percent are Black; more than 51.2 percent are foreign-born and most of  them speak a language other than English at home (mostly Spanish and Creole);  19.4 percent live below poverty level; and 29.8 percent of the population  under age 65 (more than 700,000 individuals) is uninsured .

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Apr 26 2014
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How to Advance Minority Health? Broaden Participation of Groups Underrepresented in Dentistry.

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Dora Elías McAllister, PhD, director of grant programs at the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), responds to the question, “Minority health is advanced by combating disparities and promoting diversity. How do these two goals overlap?” The ADEA is a partner in the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute, which is supported by RWJF.

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Creating an ethnically/racially diverse workforce is a significant challenge facing dental education.[i] Black/African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, American Indian/Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders[ii] make up approximately 32 percent of the U.S. population,[iii] yet represent only about 13 percent of dental school graduates.[iv] Racial/ethnic differences can also be found in access to dental care. For example, Native American and Hispanic/Latino children are least likely to have dental insurance and Hispanic/Latino children have the highest risk of never having seen a dentist.[v] A commitment to combating oral health disparities must be a priority for all dental school graduates, but encouraging and enabling students from populations that are underrepresented in dental education and experiencing oral health access problems to enter and graduate from dental school has strong implications for improving oral health disparities.

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Apr 26 2014
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How to Address Disparities? Educate, Engage Young Professionals in This Work.

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Jamar Slocum, BS, a third year medical student at Meharry Medical College, responds to the question, “What does the country need to do to address disparities and build a culture of health that includes all people?” Slocum is a participant in Meharry’s RWJF Scholars’ program.

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In virtually every public health venture, health departments are confronted with the consequences of social poverty, institutional racism, and other forms of universal injustice. It is my belief that in order to make any significant change to a society, it is essential to have leaders who are in the forefront of the upcoming generation. Young professionals will ultimately bear the responsibility for implementing the policies and programs necessary for sustainable development. Budding physicians and researchers are exposed to an extensive array of sustainable development perspectives at a formative age in their professional development. This strengthens their own knowledge base and advances their capability to comment substantively on health disparity issues and to become effective agents of change.

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Apr 25 2014
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How to Advance Minority Health? Our Educational Systems Can Help.

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Janet Chang, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., responds to the question, “Minority health is advanced by combating disparities and promoting diversity. How do these two goals overlap?” Chang is an alumna of the RWJF New Connections Program; she studies sociocultural influences on social support, help-seeking, and psychological functioning among diverse ethnic/racial groups.

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Given the rapidly changing demographic landscape, ethnic/racial minorities will constitute the majority of the U.S. population by 2043 (U.S. Census, 2010). This inevitable shift to a majority-minority population has far-reaching implications for our society. The future of the United States will largely be determined by how we address growing disparities in income distribution, health care, and health outcomes. Yet, frank discussions about disparities and diversity lag behind the rapid population growth of ethnic/racial minority groups. In this respect, educational systems play a pivotal role in facilitating and shaping the dialogue about diversity. By promoting diversity, we can combat health disparities and advance minority health.

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Apr 25 2014
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How Can Health Systems Effectively Serve Minority Communities? Part of the Solution is Improving Care for Those in Correctional Facilities.

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Raymond Perry, MD, MS, medical director of Los Angeles County Juvenile Court Health Services, responds to the question, “What are the challenges, needs, or opportunities for health systems to effectively serve minority communities?” Perry is an alumnus of the RWJF Clinical Scholars program (UCLA 2009-2012).

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Racial and ethnic minorities are significantly overrepresented in the U.S. correctional system. As these men, women, and adolescents spend days, weeks, months, or years detained in jails, prisons, and juvenile detention facilities, the health care system must recognize the health implications of the disproportionate incarceration of minorities, as well as the opportunities for addressing minority health issues in our society—namely, inequitable health care access and disproportionately negative health outcomes. 

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Apr 25 2014
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How to Address Disparities? Interprofessional Teams, A Collaborative Approach to Training.

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Kate Driscoll Malliarakis, PhD, ANP-BC, MAC, an assistant professor at the George Washington University School of Nursing, responds to the question, “What does the country need to do to address disparities and build a culture of health that includes all people?” She is an alumna of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program.

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The quick answer is to admonish legislators in state and federal governments for failing to gain consensus on what care they will provide and then for actually failing to provide the care. 

Government bureaucracy is certainly a barrier to attending to the health needs of the people in the United States, but government is only one of the issues we face. Often, our society fails to step up and acknowledge inherent prejudice. We surround ourselves with “our kind” and observe others from a distance. We develop a kind of detachment from those who are not like us, and we fail to acknowledge the richness of cultural diversity. The volatile world economy in the past few years has proved that many of us are but a few paychecks away from personal ruin; in other words, we too can easily become a disparity statistic.

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Dec 13 2013
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The Vast Impact of the IOM Bolsters Efforts to Address Health Disparities and Promote a Culture of Health

Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD, is the William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and founding director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. He also chairs the National Advisory Board of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College and is a former member of the National Advisory Committees for the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program and Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research.

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The Institute of Medicine (IOM), perhaps more than any other institution, sets the country’s standards and agenda. The field of health disparities offers a great example. In 2002 the IOM published the report Unequal Treatment. The report compiled the scientific evidence documenting substantial racial and ethnic inequities in the quality of health care received by Americans. The report placed health inequalities on the front burner of the nation’s health policy agenda. Understanding the causes and solutions to racial inequities in health has been the primary focus of my career. While the findings were not a surprise to me, I was elated that the IOM had lent its considerable credibility to this long-standing and vexing problem. I am even more elated, now, to have been elected to membership in the IOM.

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Aug 8 2012
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Revolutionary Gerontology: The Intergenerational Questions

Cleopatra M. Abdou, PhD, is an assistant professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, and an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program. This post is part of a series on the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, running in conjunction with the program’s tenth anniversary.  The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program is designed to build the nation’s capacity for research, leadership and policy change to address the multiple determinants of population health.

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Gerontology, the study of aging, is a diverse field that integrates the biological, social-behavioral, and health sciences, as well as public policy. This means that gerontological research addresses a vast range of questions. One type of question asked by gerontologists, including myself, has to do with intergenerational processes. My own research investigates the intergenerational transmission of culture, social identities, conceptions of stress and success, and, ultimately, health. For example, how do our notions of, and relationships to, family affect our health at critical points in the lifespan? More specifically, how do familial roles and responsibilities, such as marrying, reproducing, and caring for grandchildren, correlate with life satisfaction and longevity?

My four siblings and I are the first American-born generation in our family. Our parents came to the United States from Egypt in 1969, and I am strongly identified as both an American and an Egyptian. Anyone who has complex or competing identities knows that it’s a mixed bag—a blessing and a curse. Recently, as I boarded a plane in Cairo to return to the United States, I found myself sobbing with what I think was a kind of homesickness. As happy as I was to return to my immediate family and orderly life in The States, I mourned leaving the land of my parents and all of our parents before them, especially during this important time in Egypt’s history.

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Mar 21 2012
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The Imperative to Make All Patients Feel Respected and Comfortable

Aasim Padela, MD, MSc, is an emergency medicine physician, health services researcher and bioethicist whose scholarship focuses on the intersection of minority health and bioethics through the lens of the health care experiences of American Muslims. An assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, he is director of Initiative on Islam and Medicine and faculty at the Maclean Center for Clinical Ethics. Padela was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar from 2008 to 2011. His most recent work examines health care accommodations requested by American Muslims that can improve their experiences in the health care system.

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Treating patients with understanding and respect is fundamental to health care. As the field has become increasingly focused on metrics and outcomes, we have learned that how comfortable and respected patients feel directly impacts their health outcomes. If you feel uncomfortable with your physician, you are less likely to seek their help, discuss your health concerns with them, or follow their recommendations.

Cultural competency and health care accommodations can help ensure that patients feel as welcome as possible as they seek health resources. While we seek to accommodate patients based on language and culture, we often overlook the ways a shared religion may influence the health of people from different ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups. My research has looked at how we can improve the quality of health care American Muslims receive, particularly through means that account for their shared religiously-informed health care values and experiences. American Muslims are indeed a fast-growing, under-studied and underserved minority.

What we’ve learned provides some actionable steps that may improve health care not only for American Muslims but also for other populations. Our work also points to the need for more research focused on how a shared religion and religious identity impacts community health, and for the health care field to consider larger issues about how we track and deliver health services.

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