Immigrants and Health Care
Immigrantsand Health Care
Theaim of this comprehensive paper is to explore the problems faced byindividuals in the health sector due to cultural differences. Thepaper focuses on the cultural-based limitations that hinder adequatehealth care for the immigrants. A literature review was conducted onintercultural competences in the medicine and health industry. Thisanalysis involved collection of secondary data from peer-reviewedresources in this field of study. The review avoided the non-academicsources to prevent unreliability and poor judgment of the issuesdiscussed. A total of five recently published scholarly documentswere selected and analyzed. Data from these resources was referencedto provide credibility and relevance of the presented facts andfindings. Moreover, this paper presents cultural competence, policyreforms, and cross-cultural communication as some of the unavoidablestrategies for rehabilitating the health sector to cater for theneeds of the immigrants. The importance of training the healthpractitioners and encouraging them to embrace cultural competenceskills are also clearly presented in this paper.
Keywords:Culture, Cross-cultural Communication, Cultural Competence, HealthCare
Culturalcompetence is usually associated with the ability of an individual tocommunicate appropriately and efficiently with other persons from adifferent culture (Asante,Miike & Yin, 2013).Therefore, the communicator exhibits skills that ensure that thevalued norms, rules, and expectations, as well as goals ofcommunication, are not violated. An understanding of a foreignculture’s particular feeling, acting, thinking, and perception isparamount. With the rise of the globalization, many public sectorshave been faced a wide range of challenges. In businesses currently,people from all over the world and with carrying cultural andtraditional beliefs come together fulfill common goals. Thiscondition leads to problems due to the cultural differences (Asanteetal.,2013).Culture significantly influences the health sectors` abilities tooffer adequate care and treatment. Many pieces of literature haveemphasized the need for the health professionals to acquire relevantintercultural communication skills, respect for other people, andopenness to other people’s perspectives regardless of theircultural background. Research shows that most of the problems facedby the immigrants while accessing health care are due to thedifferences in cultural beliefs and practices (Asanteetal.,2013).This paper seeks to outline the challenges faced by the immigrants inthe health sectors as well as offer strategies for promotingintercultural care and treatment to these individuals.
Increasedcases of social contact occur in the home setting, nursing homes,hospitals, and while serving the broad client base. However, theincrease in this global interaction is attributable to refugeepatterns and immigration, international interactions, and socialcontact. The health experts training on communication behaviorsefficient and appropriate in the given concepts are very crucial forreliable and sustainable outcomes in the health sector to berealized. The ability to communicate effectively, therefore, dependson an individual’s mastery of various cultures. This knowledge ondiverse cultural practices could be acquired through a review of theexistence literature about a particular group of people once thepractitioner meets the patient. Nonetheless, the health professionalsmust have a background of knowledge that enables them to communicate,treat, and care for all the patients equally regardless of the racialdifferences (Asanteetal.,2013).Attitudes such as self-awareness facilitate understanding of theclients. The workforce within the hospital must possess listening,speaking, and empathizing skills which help maintain healthyrelationships with the patients as well among workers themselves(Spencer,2014).
The42.2 million immigrants living the U.S. account for 13% of the totalcountry’s population (Betancourt,Green, Carrillo, & Owusu, 2016).These individuals’ disease mortality and morbidity are very highcompared with the native occupants of the nation. Additionally, thenoncitizens in this region are reported to have a lower utilizationof the health facilities as compared with the citizens. The need todevise mechanisms for handling cultural barriers to health care isvery paramount.
Accessinga new country’s medical care becomes challenging for people whointends to maintain their homeland’s culture. It’s clear thatculture influences immigrants’ concepts of expectation of care,independence, prevention services, and stigma around healthconditions (Betancourtetal.,2016).The choices of the patients are subsequently affected by the people’sperception of various diseases as defined by their cultural norms. Onthe other hand, stigmatized immigrants population can result infailure to seek treatment due to the perception of the system aspoor. Based on the survey, most of these individuals show a tendencyof waiting for the disease to become severe for them to make medicalconsultations. Stigmatization of mental health in most communitiesmay hinder adequate medical care for a patient living in a foreignregion. The law has also contributed to the stigmatization ofimmigrant groups and the subsequent stress among these groups ofpeople. The law has led to the classification of the population intodeserving and undeserving foreigners and naturalized citizens.
Thedeterioration of the immigrants’ health is also due to two factorsincluding poor living environments among the refugees and unhealthyhabits (Betancourtetal.,2016).The average individual also lacks access to various health programssuch as immunizations further endangering the lives of these people.The depreciation of health among this population makes them feel asif they are not part of the community. This results in separation ofthese groups and continued upholding of their homeland cultures. Fora health provider who is treating these people, it might be difficultto offer best outcomes since the relationship between the patient andthe doctor is significantly affected. Adoption of a patient-centeredapproach which allows the practitioner to consider the values andsatisfaction levels of the patient is necessitated. The provider mustunderstand the challenges facing the patients and strive to provideservices that might change the perceptions of these individuals.
Thehigh costs of health care and the insurance related issues also formpart of the long-term challenges facing the immigrants in the healthsector. The immigrants’ vulnerability has been heightened by pooraccess to health services and the extremely low rates of healthinsurance (Wafula& Snipes, 2014).It’s estimated that the number of uninsured immigrants is threetimes higher that of the native-born citizens of America. Therefore,the immigrants may perceive the medical system in this country asbeing oppressive. The relationship between the practitioner and theforeigner seeking medical care is put at risk since this group ofpeople loses trust with the health professionals. For the refugeeswho spend most of their lives in the camps, paying more from thepocket due to lack of insurance might adversely affect theirlivelihood. It’s the duty of the health practitioners to make thepatients from this category trust and benefit from the medical systemregardless of the existent problems. This group of people is facedwith persistent health concerns arising from stress and limitedresources (Wafula& Snipes, 2014).When consoling these individuals, the nurses must master efficientand culturally competent modes of communication. Studies show thatthe communication barriers while caring for the refugees do not onlyarise while interacting with the patient but throughout the levels oftreatment. Making appointments and filing medical forms may also befaced with numerous challenges relating to the cultural differences.
Healthcare systems that are culturally competent are critical in theimprovement of quality care and health outcomes (Spencer,2014).The racial and ethnic disparities in this sector can also beeliminated through this approach. Moving the health care towards aculturally diverse care requires a provision of training of theprofessionals on these cross-cultural issues and competencies.Patient dissatisfaction is common if the health-based organizationsdo not strive to provide culturally competent care. According toprevious surveys, the African Americans have presented their lack ofadequate partnerships with the physicians, less involvement indecision-making and lower levels of satisfaction with medical care(Spencer,2014).It is proven the quality of patient-physician interaction is very lowamong the minority ethnic groups, such as the Latinos and AsianAmericans, as compared with the Whites. The quality and satisfactionlevels are even lower among the immigrants. Other challengeshindering effective healthcare among the immigrants include thecomplexity of the new country’s program rules, applications, andeligibility regarding medical care. The effects of these aspects ofmedical care of the immigrants vary with the changing policiesaffecting foreigners’ access to health services. Althoughdiscrimination concerning nativity overlaps with other forms ofprejudices, it is an independent factor which affects the quality ofhealth accorded to an individual.
Someof the solutions to these challenges include policy changes. Thisoption must involve all the stakeholders in the formulation rulesthat reduce the vulnerability of the immigrants. For instance, thereview of the insurance cover policies may entail an expansion of thecoverage of this group of people. The relatively low rates ofinsurance among the legal and undocumented immigrants must bereviewed through policies to eliminate stigmatization. Increasedfunding for the community health facilities would also be effectivein the reduction of costs for treatment in new regions for theseforeigners. These policies may also target the workplaces. The newregulations may seek to increase the employer-based insurance coverfor this group of people. It’s evident in this paper that theimmigrants are less likely to have such workplace benefits as theU.S.-born counterparts. The education of the immigrants on theadvantages of insurance and inclusion of employer mandates that makeinsurance services for affordable for the immigrants must accompanythe formulated laws. The formulation and implementation process mustinvolve a rational decision-making model that involves all thestakeholders. The challenges facing this minority group must bereviewed in the provisions of the policies aim at directly solvingthem. Additionally, the initiation of outreach programs throughchannels such as community-based organizations with culturallycompetent staff to help the refugees navigate through the alwayscomplicated application procedures is necessary.
Thepolicies must also be intended to provide the populations of theforeigners in the country with good living conditions. In most cases,the community members migrating into the country lives in overcrowdedplaces with inadequate resources to maintain their health. Such casesinclude refugees that have been hosted due to social, economic, andpolitical challenges in their countries. It’s the duty of thehealth department’s advocate for healthy living conditions amongthese people hence reducing cases of marginalization.
Thelimited proficiency in the local language among the refugees may alsolimit health care practice (Betancourt,Corbett & Bondaryk, 2014).For instance, due to the acknowledgment of the impacts of differencesin the languages used by both the practitioner and the patient, theU.S. government should expand the Medicaid services to include forinterpretation in all the states. The government must also invest inthe education of bilingual communities and benefits such as increasedpay for staff members from these communities. The entire workforcemust embrace intercultural communication skills at the hospital(Betancourt,Corbett & Bondaryk, 2014).The nurses and other medical practitioners must be prepared toaddress conflicts that arise due to the difference in values andnorms. The treatment process of the marginalized groups must startwith a show of empathy and need to improve their health conditions.The professionals must communicate the nature of the diseases clearlyand make sure the decision-making process regarding treatmentinvolves the patient as well as the family members (Wafula& Snipes, 2014).The feeling of appreciation in the patients enables them to trust themedical systems and provide details concerning their healthconditions. The improved interaction between the patient and thehealth practitioner improves the treatment outcome.
Thecurrent debates in the Congress offer the U.S. government anopportunity to reform the policies affecting the immigrants. Thepolicy-makers could adopt provisions that will ensure that all theimmigrants have access to adequate health care. Despite the increasedcost of public services caused by the increase of the undocumentedimmigrants, the country must be prepared to offer these individualswith medical care as it awaits the determination of the illegality ofcrossing the border. The government should not concentrate on thedeportation of these people even when they are suffering fromdiseases. According to research, most of the individuals who migrateillegally have been unable to access adequate care for the entire oftheir lives. Therefore, it is morally right for the health sectors tobe equipped with the relevant resources required for maximumtreatment.
Inconclusion, as evident in this paper, intercultural competence isvery crucial in the treatment caregiving in the health facilitiestoday. The rise in the number of international interactions as wellmigration has led to the need for treating individuals of a differentcultural background than the practitioner. This set of skill isparticularly importance for administering treatment procedures toimmigrants. These people’ mistrust of the health system, lack ofadequate insurance coverage, and stigmatization has promotedinadequate health care among these individuals. Some of the practicalmeasures for eliminating challenges include policy reforms, culturalcompetence, and effective intercultural communication skills. Thenurses and other health professionals must maintain a strongrelationship with the patient, understand the differences in beliefs,and empathize with them in cases where they have not been able toacquire treatment due to social, political, or economic reasons.
Asante,M. K., Miike, Y., & Yin, J. (2013). Theglobal intercultural communication reader.Routledge.
Betancourt,J. R., Corbett, J., & Bondaryk, M. R. (2014). Addressingdisparities and achieving equity: cultural competence, ethics, andhealth-care transformation. CHESTJournal, 145(1),143-148.
Betancourt,J. R., Green, A. R., Carrillo, J. E., & Owusu Ananeh-Firempong,I. I. (2016). Defining cultural competence: a practical framework foraddressing racial/ethnic disparities in health and healthcare. Publichealth reports.
Spencer,C. (2014). How Transformational is Irish Healthcare Education?:Exploring the Role of Intercultural Competence Learning forPractising Health Professionals. IrishJournal of Academic Practice, 3(1),2.
Wafula,E. G., & Snipes, S. A. (2014). Barriers to health care accessfaced by black immigrants in the US: theoretical considerations andrecommendations. Journalof Immigrant and Minority Health, 16(4),689-698.
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