Offering culturally competent care for the people of color, particularly African Americans, has been a critical area of investigation even as health care personnel continue with the efforts to identify and understand the factors behind the current disparities of care affecting the community. Therefore, the ability to offer culturally competent care by the health care personnel to the community will facilitate addressing of barriers, including lack of trust and cultural stereotypes by the medical community towards the community (Stansbury et al., 2018). Generally, several strategies can be adopted to achieve culturally competent care for African Americans.
Being culturally sensitive and understanding to African American patients is one of the strategies of promoting culturally competent care for the population. According to studies, African Americans have more chances of refusing or avoiding invasive procedures as a result of religious and cultural beliefs (Clark et al., 2018). Understanding and being sensitive to these beliefs is essential in facilitating positive and culturally competent experiences hence improving their engagement in healthcare. Some of the beliefs that could be taken into considerations in the effort to improve culturally competent care for African Americans include lack of trustworthiness between the healthcare providers and the healthcare system, concerns about surgical procedures and their role in spreading cancer, fear of addiction from using opioids in pain management and belief in seeking treatment from spiritual healers and prayers instead of medical treatment (Clark et al., 2018). With these kinds of beliefs, it important to understand to ensure they receive the best quality care that is free from disparities associated with being African Americans.
Encouraging African Americans to engage in clinical trials is also another strategy to promote culturally competent care. Statically, African American participation in clinical research has been very low, and this has limited the opportunity to not only offer safe and effective care to the population but also identify culturally competent care. By actively engaging in clinical research, this will present an opportunity for communication, knowledge, and awareness on various health aspects that may reduce the negative behaviors that hinder the provision of culturally competent care (Kelley et al., 2019). Such initiatives will also engage American Americans in their care, thus enabling them to address stereotypes, myths, anxiety, and other concerns that may prevent them from receiving culturally competent care.
Offering cultural competency training for the healthcare professional is also another strategy for encouraging culturally competent care for African Americans. This can be achieved through educational interventions that aim to improve the knowledge that is specific to African Americans as well as general interventions. Interventions that are specific to African Americans would aim at teaching healthcare various on how to deal with beliefs, values, and attitudes about the population that result in stereotypes and exaggerations of the diversity associated with the group (Kennedy et al., 2018). On the other hand, the general interventions aim at teaching cultural competence through awareness, empathy, cultural skills, and techniques as well as cognitive measures that would increase cultural sensitivity hence addressing biases and stereotypes.
In conclusion, achieving culturally competent care for African Americans has been a vital goal in the healthcare system. This aims at reducing health disparities through improving cultural sensitivity and providing unbiased care. Further, culturally competent care also implies respecting the diversity of the population and cultural aspects related to health and health care.
Clark, J. L., Phoenix, S., Bilbrey, A. C., McManis, T., Escal, K. A., Arulanantham, R., Sisay, T., & Ghatak, R. (2018). Cultural competency in dementia care: An African American case study. Clinical Gerontologist, 41(3), 255–260.
Kelley, F. R., Haas, G. L., Felber, E., Travis, M. J., & Davis, E. M. (2019). Religious community partnerships: A novel approach to teaching psychiatry residents about religious and cultural factors in the mental health care of African-Americans. Academic Psychiatry, 43(3), 300–305.
African Americans are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the black racial groups of Africa. Many African Americans experience healthcare disparities that result in limited access to healthcare, the underutilization of healthcare services, quality of care received and having inadequate health insurance coverage (McDowell & O’Rourke, 2018). Most African-Americans mistrust the US Healthcare System. This distress was fueled by incidences such as the Tuskegee study between 1932 and 1972 (Ritter & Graham, 2017, P. 209). In addition, African Americans commonly receive disrespect in healthcare settings, and African-Americans experienced adverse encounters due to negative assumptions and images, with the most common assumption being related to black women’s sexual promiscuity (Ritter & Graham, 2017, P. 207). Subtle insults and comments make African Americans feel inferior in healthcare settings. Dismiss stress is what leads some African Americans to rely on traditional healing methods or not to seek care until they can no longer be avoided (Ritter & Graham, 2017, P. 207).
African Americans have to deal with a lot of discrimination, and even that can negatively impact these individuals. The physical effects of racial discrimination can include stress which can lead to problems such as high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Another physical effect of racial discrimination is obesity and diabetes. It can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drug use, and binge-eating. Another unhealthy behavior is that people who experience racial discrimination May verbally abused others or be very discriminating towards people outside of their race (Ritter & Graham, 2017, P. 209).
Discrimination, poverty, poor nutrition, and exercise habits have resulted in serious health problems for African Americans. African American dominates all other racial groups in low birth weight, infant mortality, obesity, diabetes, asthma, Hepatitis B, HIV AIDS, STDs, the waiting list for organ transplants, and cancer deaths (Ritter & Graham, 2017, P. 216). When individuals have these limitations, it is important to be culturally sensitive and competent to ensure the patient receives the best quality of care (McDowell & O’Rourke, 2018).
Some considerations for practice: African Americans tend to speak louder than those from other cultures, Healthcare Providers to not misinterpret this as anger; Ask patients about their health beliefs; Assess their knowledge and the significance of spirituality, and offer choices for treatment options; Include patients in the decision-making process and answer your patients’ questions and concerns about diagnosis and treatment plans; Be respectful; before touching patients always explain what will be done and why (Ritter & Graham, 2017, P. 221-222).
The disparities in treatment and the Prejudice shown have resulted in African Americans having the worst Health profile of any population in the United States (Ritter & Graham, 2017, P. 209). Reducing health disparities is an important initiative to improve outcomes for patients from diverse backgrounds (McDowell & O’Rourke, 2018). There is undoubtedly a necessity to increase the level of cultural sensitivity among physicians, nurses, & other healthcare personnel; recognize unfavorable socioeconomic and cultural barriers as a preexisting condition; improve the community surrounding African Americans & other minority patients; and increase the number of minority healthcare workers (Thomas, 2016).
McDowell, M., & O’Rourke, M. (2018). Providing Culturally Competent Care for African Americans. Retrieved from https://www.aana.com/docs/default-source/about-us-aana.com-web-documents-(all)/providing-culturally-competent-care-to-african-americans-jan-2018.pdf?sfvrsn=54115cb1_2
Ritter, L.A., & Graham, D.H. (2017). Multicultural Health (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning. ISBN: 9781284021028
Thomas, N. (2016). Healthcare Disparities in African Americans. Retrieved from https://minoritynurse.com/healthcare-disparities-african-americans/
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