Diversity and Health: Understanding Cultural Dynamics Through Healthcare Issues

Diversity plays a major role in fostering a climate of understanding and cooperation. This improved climate is particularly important in the health care arena where competent and compassionate care is essential to the well being of individuals seeking support. Furthermore, an understanding of multicultural beliefs and trends are crucial to the effective application of information and resources to target communities traditionally “let out of the loop” regarding vital information for life saving treatments. The issue of health disparity, particularly among minorities, has become a “hot bed’ controversy with millions of dollars invested in studies to determine root causes and outline possible solutions. Meanwhile, diseases of epidemic proportions, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer, are running rampant in minority communities and their tentacles in the form of obesity and high blood pressure are increasingly impacting our future generation – our children. We need to bring together the effective elements of diversity’s “best practices” with the core dynamics of healthcare outreach to develop and implement a program platform that will not only address these issues, but combat them.

The health care industry is reaching into many new directions with techniques geared towards bridging the gap with medical institutions, government agencies, medical professionals, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, etc. By bringing these entities together with members from the educational and communications/media arenas, we can take the strategies that are geared towards inclusion and initiate programs that are diverse, proactive and address the needs of the target populations so long underrepresented. Research is showing that there continues to be a lag in the area of support services for people of color to provide them with early awareness about critical diseases. In addition, the drop in the number of medical professionals of color who know that market and can meet the needs with compassion. There are many questions on the horizon. What is being done to address this concern? What staffing orientation dynamics are in place for medical professionals of one ethnicity working in districts where other ethnic groups reside in the majority? What messages are Board Members and Hospital Administrators giving in their interactions? What outdated beliefs are they bringing to the table that negatively impact healthcare applications and medical practices? Specific discussions that would address these types of issues should be taking place in community hospitals and major board rooms as the global mosaic continues to evolve.

Diversity in healthcare involves increased awareness about cultural dynamics and societal implications to expand prevention strategies in underserved communities and insure that all people are provided with comprehensive medical treatment.