Research and technological advancement made in the United Stated of America (USA) has led to the improvement of health outcomes among the citizens of this country. People are living longer, cures are being developed daily, and many unanswered health questions are being answered then ever before. However, despite this multitude of improvement in the health status of Americans, African American men are disproportionately affected by health inequalities as compared to their Caucasian men. This paper will identify a minority group and offer relevant information of the factors that preclude minorities from quality health care, with noted barriers and interventions that will lead to improved health care and achieve the goal of quality life styles for not just one culture of people, but all people in the United States.
Identifying Health disparities in African American Men
African American men have the highest mortality rates and the lowest life expectancy rates among women and men in all of the racial and ethnic groups in America. The mortality rate for African American men is about 1.3 times that of White men. Life expectancy for African American men is 70 years old compared to White males living to age 76 (Xanthos, 1998). The death rate for blacks are 3 times higher than whites, due to the social and economic conditions of poverty, unemployment, stress, education, neighborhoods and their disproportionate risk for disease (Net wellness, 2014). African American men die 2.5 times more than White men from prostate cancer; African American men are 8 times more likely to die from HIV; African American men are 2 times more likely to develop heart disease and 3 times more likely to develop hypertension (Men’s Health). When compared to White men, African American men development diseases earlier, suffer from more severe diseases, and have less access to medical care.
The most disturbing fact to access to care is that White men are more likely to receive state of the art treatment than African American men. The exploitation of race and gender has been rooted in class status. This widespread behavior has been seen since the founding of this nation. Class has been used as a way to Indirectly suppress the poor in all sectors of life. It is the ways in which access to a variety of social goods such as the employment, housing, power; education and income are distributed in this country.
Many of the questions and issues regarding this have been and continue to adversely affect the health of African American men. Having the understanding that there are barriers that are difficult to address in any one health promotion, and being able to rethink how these barriers function in the lives of African American men, will result in likely success in promoting quality healthcare. How is Health promotion defined by this group?
Life style plays a major role in the prevalence of chronic disease. Given the factors that impact racial discrimination concerning the health care of African American men, we can start by promoting policies which address all racial discrimination. We must strengthen anti-discrimination legislation that addresses unemployment. We reform and improve the interaction
with African American male students, by increasing funding to the African American communities, which would lead to having more marketable African American men in the work force. We must also address the racial biases in the criminal system, reducing the number of African American in our jails. If we use the landmark law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we will enable over 30 million people with much needed health insurance coverage. With the provisions of the ACA not only will health insurance coverage be accessible, but provisions related to disparities be reduced, data collection and reporting will be more effective and inclusive of quality improvement and prevention. This act will promote prevention and wellness programs, giving all people more control over their health care (Sebelius, 2011). According to the Healthy People 2020, one of the goals is to “achieve health equity, eliminate disparities and improve the health of all groups.”
By tracking death rates, acute and chronic diseases, injuries and all health related behaviors, this will assist health care providers become more proficient in diagnosing and providing treatment in the areas of cardiovascular disease, cancer, HIV and diabetes while being culturally competent (Healthy People, 2020). Our local, regional, and national organizations must take an action role in providing guidelines to develop comprehensive health care interventions that are designed for people of all cultures (Argondezzi, 2001). The successful strengthening of infrastructures to prioritize the challenges of reducing health disparities of African American men will achieve the much needed sources to eliminate unequal treatment.
Exponents for social justice and equality have continued to disseminate information on the importance of addressing this problem. Many professional organizations, governmental and non- governmental bodies such as WHO and Public Health Organizations as well as individuals like Paul Farmer and Barbara Ehrenreich have been active on the forefront either directly or indirectly in advocating for social justice. Given the multi-faceted nature of the problem Barbara Ehrenreich a writer by profession and PhD by education, conducted an experimental study on class in the United States of America by self experiencing the reality of living as a lower class citizen with a lower and unskilled paying job in her book entitled; Nickel and Dime (Ehrenreich, 2008). Nickel and Dime is a non fictitious writing that depicts the social class of America. Barbara Ehrenreich, is a reporter and a writer who decided to experiment on how unskilled low wage workers are able to live on their minimum wages.
To experiment the effects of living as a lower class citizen in this country, she decided to live in three different states month by month while living on just what she made as an unskilled worker. Her decision first took her to Key West, Florida, where she begun working as a waitress in a restaurant. She was able to find an affordable living accommodation in a trailer on the outskirt of the city. Acknowledging that one job could not pay her living expenses, she sought a second job as a hotel maid. The physical demands of both jobs resulted in Barbara leaving her second job. She was unable to complete the whole month before moving to Portland to continue her next experiment (Ehrenreich, 2008) .
In Portland, she found a job as a maid with a residential housekeeping service. There she also took a second job as a dietary aide in a nursing home in order to meet her monthly living expenses. She was indirectly forced to work seven days a week to meet the need of paying her monthly rent, food and clothing. She became an advocate for her co-workers while working as a maid, even though, she was able to win a day off for one of her co-workers who had sustained an injury at the job but afraid of losing her job kept working while injured (Ehrenreich, 2008) . Barbara’s final destination on her experiment was in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she was hired to work at a Wal-Mart store, putting clothes on shelves. In Minnesota she was not able to afford an expensive apartment due to her salary.
The apartment vacancy rate in Minneapolis was so low that she had to stay in motels until she completed her experiment. Barbara had advocated for the lower class through her book, regarding the experience that lower class citizens go through in terms of self esteem, housing, education and power. She highlighted the deplorably conditions and humiliation that they face each day at work. She summarized some of the reasons why wages are kept low, the rationale for the humiliation, the yelling on and the psychological derailment of their self esteem that keeps them in a lower salary while the upper class reap off all the benefits from their hard labor in an exchange for coffee and donuts at times instead of a pay raise (Ehrenreich, 2008). There is a direct correlation between lower class and poor health.
Health disparities are often measured in terms of income, education, wealth, politics or influence and occupation. The combination of these factors including race and gender often determine our social worth. The experiment of Barbara Ehrenreich is a great example of discrimination, disparity, and she was a woman. African American men experience much more and receive much less.
Looking at different cultures is not new to nurses, even Florence Nightingale analyzed her population to determine the care and services that were needed. Understanding and influencing culture, economics, the physical environments of our patient’s health practices, while assisting them to access to care will lead to promising outcomes (Jones, 2014).
As quoted by Kathleen G. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, “It is time to refocus, reinforce, and repeat the message that health disparities exist and that health equity benefits everyone.”
Argondezzi, Theresa (2001). The Many Faces of Health Care: Disparities in Minority Health. Retrieved November 13, 2014 from http://www.nursing.advanceweb.com/Article The -Many –Faces-of-Health-Care-Disparities –Minority. Barbara Ehrenreich (1999). Nickel and Dimed. Retrieved November 14, 2014 from http:// www.wesjones.com/ehrenreich.htm.
Health and Human Services. A Nation Free of Disparities in Health and Health Care. Retrieved November 13, 2014. http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/npa/files/Plans/HHS/HHS_Plan. Jones, Linda (2014). Letting Data Lead the Way. Retrieved November 14, 2014 from http:// www.nursing.advanceweb.com/Archieves/Article-Archive/Letting-Data-Lead-the-Way. Men’s Health Consulting. African American Men Experience Disproportionate Risk for Disease and Death. Retrieved November 15, 2014 from http://www.menshealth.org/code/ afroamer.html.
Sebelius, Kathleen. Secretary, Health and Human Services
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