Culture, Diversity and Disparities in Health Care

Two of the overarching goals identified in Healthy People 2020 are:

· Achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups.

· Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all.

These focus on a variety of factors that support and perpetuate disparity in health outcomes such as gender, race and ethnicity, income and education, disability, <a href=””>geographic</a> location, and sexual orientation (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1998). To accomplish these goals, health professionals must understand how culture, society and health care professionals contribute to disparities and work to minimize the effects of inequality on health and health outcomes.

Cherry and Jacobs describe population trends and economic and social changes that impact access to health care. To continue the discussion of values and ethics in<a href=””> health care</a> professionals, specifically nurses, this online assignment will help you look at your values and beliefs and professional culture and relationship to patient care in vulnerable and often marginalized populations. The IOM (2002) determined that one reason for unequal care was discrimination that occurs at the provider level and involves differences and conflicts in values and beliefs, bias, prejudices, and stereotyping.

Common Perceptions and Beliefs of Health Care Professionals (Including Nurses)

1. Personal Responsibility. Poor health stems from individuals making unhealthy

choices. Remember the theme in online #1 regarding the socialized values —

people have responsibility for health and illness (except children — generally health

professionals blame parents as it is unacceptable to blame the child.)

2. Unfortunate but not unjust. Hierarchies are everywhere. Life isn’t fair, and

differences in group health, like wealth disparities, will always be with us.

3. Nothing can be done. If health inequities do in fact arise from structural inequities in

the rest of society, then what can be done short of a revolution. (Unnatural Causes

California Newsreel 2008)


1. Cherry &amp; Jacobs – Chapter 10

2. Campinha-Bacote article (posted in Files)

3. ANA Position Statement: The Nurses Role in Ethics and Human Rights (Posted in Files)

4. Ten Things to Know About Health (posted in Files)

5. Health Equity Quiz (posted in Files). Complete the Quiz this quiz is not graded and NOT part of your final grade! – then look at the Health Equity Quiz answers.

ONLINE – Threaded Discussion: Culture, Diversity and Disparities in Health Care

1. Read the assigned readings in text.

2. Complete the “Health Equity Quiz” (in Files for this week) and review answers (link provided in threaded discussion).

3. Think about your values and beliefs and the information from the reading. Reflect on how your own culture and background influence your nursing practice both for patients with similar value systems and different values systems.

4. Identify a specific patient population that is your favorite or the easiest to care for. Explain why. Remember to relate your response to values, beliefs, and culture.

5. Identify a specific patient population that is your least favorite or the most difficult to care for or is in direct conflict with your beliefs. Explain why. Look at bias, prejudice and stereotyping. What values and beliefs are in “conflict”? How does your perception of this patient population influence your nursing practice?

Some examples of patient populations that you as a member of society and healthcare professional may have biases and stereotypes include: mentally ill persons, obese, smokers, asthma, COPD, diabetes, different ethnicities, races, single mothers, persons with alcoholism, persons who have drug addictions, people experiencing poverty, people who are homeless, teen parents, persons who are HIV positive, “illegal” immigrants, persons with disabilities (both physical and “hidden”), persons who have had an abortion, persons of sexual orientation different from your own.

6. Remember it is impossible to care for anyone without filtering or looking at the person through your own values and beliefs. Since we must believe that our own values are “best”; all of us are “judgmental.” Being “judgmental” does not mean we cannot provide quality patient care. It simply means we need to be aware of our “judgments”, acknowledge our perceptions of our patients and work to meet the needs of persons who think and believe and are different than we are.


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