The health status of different population groups largely depends on their cultural and socio-economic factors, including values, beliefs, and attitudes to health care practices, as well as the level of access to medical services. When speaking of the Latino population in the United States, its representatives are predisposed to the development of some diseases more than people of other ethnicities, and their life expectancy is lower than in many other ethnical groups.
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Paz and Massey (2016) state that, on average, Hispanics live about 77.1 years while life expectancy in Asian Americans is 86.8 years, and White individuals − 79. 6 years. Statistical data indicates that various forms of cancer and heart disease are among the most widespread causes of death in Latino Americans (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). For instance, the Latino population is associated with higher risks for skin cancer development than non-Latino, White people. Researchers indicate that the incidence of melanoma among Hispanics has increased by more than 10% between 1990 and 2010 (Day, Stapleton, Natale-Pereira, Goydos, & Coups, 2015).
Moreover, they note that Latino individuals are diagnosed with later stages of the disease more often than Caucasian patients, and, for this reason, the morbidity and mortality due to skin cancer are higher in the given population group (Day et al., 2015). At the same time, in general, it is observed that Hispanic immigrants show nearly 20 percent lower mortality rates due to various diseases compared to Hispanics born in the United States (Paz & Massey, 2016). The researchers suggest that it may be because of the gradual and slow immigrant assimilation to the local behavioral models.
The increased incidence of later cancer diagnosis, as well as the overall greater level of mortality due to various disorders in Hispanic people, may be related to lower awareness of the disease symptoms and risk factors, low rates of surveillance, inability to perform self-exams, and the overall barriers to the utilization of healthcare. Based on this, the capacity to identify disease promptly is less developed in Latino individuals. According to Paz and Massey (2016), the lack of knowledge of health measures and lifestyles is the major cause of cardiovascular health disparities in the Hispanic population, and they are maintained by such factors as income level, language barriers, and the level of education.
The identified obstacles to healthcare delivery also contribute to the reduced access to health promotion and disease prevention in Hispanics. Along with socio-economic inhibiting factors, these barriers may be of a structural and organizational character, e.g., the lack of Latino Americans in the hospital workforce and cultural irrelevancy of health promotion programs, etc. (Betancourt, Carrillo, Green, & Maina, 2004). Thus, health promotion programs specifically designed to address the needs of the given population group should be designed, and they must be sensitive to the interests and features of the US Hispanics.
Since the level of awareness of existing disease identification and self-surveillance measures is defined as the primary cause of health disparities in the selected population group, it is possible to say that the primary prevention methods and education, in particular, maybe especially effective in solving the current problems. For this reason, it may be recommended to implement a patient education program aimed to encourage individuals to engage in healthier lifestyles and use various disease-specific protection activities as it may foster favorable behavioral changes in the target population. The program should be designed considering the health beliefs of Hispanics and their perceptions of health risks. Moreover, it should aim to reduce confusion due to the exposure to controversial recommendations about the disease and its prevention, which is considered one of the reasons why people do not strive to reduce existing health risks (Santiago-Rivas, Wang, & Jandorf, 2014).
The lack of an understanding of own actual health risks can be positively correlated with fatalistic beliefs about the disease among Latino individuals. It means that education about the risk factors is essential. The community-based education sessions administered with the participation of Latino leaders and specialists in health care based on the community-grounded needs and relevant research evidence are considered to be efficient in behavior interventions (Castro, Balcazar, & Cota, 2008).
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To support the conveyed information, it is possible to include the visual materials in the education program because the recent research findings reveal the long-term effectiveness of interventions that include visual and graphical information (e.g., videos and photographs) (Horsham et al., 2014). Thus, it may be recommended to provide pictures of unfavorable consequences of untreated disorders in order to raise awareness and dissolve harmful health beliefs in the target population group.
The measurable outcomes of the suggested health promotion program may include the increased knowledge of specific disease terminology, prevention methods, risk factors, and clinical representation. The development of awareness and right attitude in the members of the Hispanic community may result in the more frequent practice of protection activities such as self-exams and regular referrals to professional screening. In the long run, the program may contribute to the reduction of morbidity and mortality among Latino Americans.
Betancourt, J. R., Carrillo, J. E., Green, A. R., & Maina, A. (2004). Barriers to health promotion and disease prevention in the Latino population. Clinical Cornerstone, 6(3), 16-29. doi:10.1016/s1098-3597(04)80061-9
Castro, F.G., Balcazar, H., & Cota, M. (2008). Health promotion in Latino populations: Program planning, development, and evaluation.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Health of Hispanic or Latino population.
Day, A. K., Stapleton, J. L., Natale-Pereira, A. M., Goydos, J. S., & Coups, E. J. (2015). Occupational sunscreen use among US Hispanic outdoor workers. BMC Research Notes, 8(1). doi:10.1186/s13104-015-1558-1
Horsham, C., Auster, J., Sendall, M. C., Stoneham, M., Youl, P., Crane, P., … Kimlin, M. (2014). Interventions to decrease skin cancer risk in outdoor workers: Update to a 2007 systematic review. BMC Research Notes, 7, 10.
Paz, K., & Massey, K. (2016). Health disparity among Latina Women: Comparison with non-Latina women. Clinical Medicine Insights: Womens Health, 71. doi:10.4137/cmwh.s38488
Santiago-Rivas, M., Wang, C., & Jandorf, L. (2014). Sun protection beliefs among Hispanics in the US. Journal of Skin Cancer, 2014, 1-10. doi:10.1155/2014/161960