253892 Communicating with Mexican Americans about traditional health beliefs and practices: Reducing cultural barriers to health care and community health education

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ingrid Bauer , University of California, Berkeley, Oakland, CA
In the United States, racial and ethnic minorities receive lower quality health care and suffer worse health outcomes than white Americans, in part due to cultural barriers between patients and healthcare providers and institutions. Cultural competence—a process that incorporates cultural humility, communication skills, and cultural knowledge to improve cross-cultural healthcare encounters—has been promoted as one strategy for reducing health inequities. For Mexican Americans, poor communication about traditional health beliefs and practices not only increases the risk of herb-drug interactions or missing potentially serious health problems, but also indicates a breakdown in the patient-provider relationship. Increasing knowledge and communication skills about health beliefs and CAM use is thus an strategy to improve the quality of medical care and community health education, which may reduce health inequities among Mexican Americans. This mixed-methods study examines the health beliefs and practices of Mexican American patients and the knowledge and communication skills of their providers at a bilingual clinic serving Latino members of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA. Areas of exploration include notions of health and illness; use of traditional and alternative practices; and the quality of provider-patient communication. Methods include a telephone survey of patients, follow-up interviews with selected survey respondents, and a provider questionnaire. Participants attending the presentation of the research should expect to learn about 1) how cultural competency may or may not reduce health inequities, and 2) Mexican American health beliefs and practices which are important to incorporate into clinical encounters and community health education.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Understand the role of cross-cultural communication and cultural humility in reducing barriers to health care and eliminating ethnic health inequities. 2. Identify common Mexican American health beliefs and practices (home remedies, folk practitioners, spiritual practices, etc) which are important to ask about in medical encounters as well as to incorporate into community health education with Mexican Americans.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I completed the research as outlined in my abstract.
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.