195726 Samoans in San Francisco: Assessing cultural competence during prenatal care

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Natalie Ah Soon, BS , Community Health Education Section, San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA
Isabel Auerbach, MPH, CHES , Community Health Education Section, San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA
This project provided a portrait of the perinatal health needs of Samoan women by identifying their level of knowledge about prenatal care guidelines and the level of Samoan cultural competency among health service providers.

A literature search showed that data on Samoans were uncollected or incomplete. Samoans were often bundled with all Asian-Americans. Thus, the health status/health experiences of Samoans were difficult to characterize. However, data showed that Samoans have high rates (48.4%) of late/delayed entry into perinatal care. Further, Samoans are severely underrepresented in the healthcare workforce. For example, there are only 20 Samoan physicians in California.

To gain local and detailed information through interviews, twelve Samoan women and twenty-five health service providers were contacted: four of the former and seven of the latter consented. To protect the women's privacy, all were referred by peers. They reported significant knowledge of the importance of early perinatal care and where to access it. However, all entered care late. They reasoned that pregnancy is a “natural process, not a medical case” and that they had “unexpected travel for family events.” None of the providers self-identified as Samoan. All but one had an almost complete lack of knowledge, awareness, and understanding about Samoan traditions and culture and an overgeneralization of Samoans from the little they knew. All asked “what Samoans think of exercise and diet” during the interview. In order to promote early prenatal care among Samoan women, it is critical for providers to gain an understanding of Samoan healing tradition and culture.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to list at least three steps to take in their practices to better serve Samoan pregnant women.

Keywords: Pregnancy Outcomes, Special Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a bilingual/bicultural Samoan woman with the B.S. in community health education.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.