Addressing inequality in the health status of minority population groups and other categories of citizens in the United States is one of the most complicated tasks for present-day researchers and policymakers. This sphere’s problems vary from susceptibility to particular conditions to the circumstances explaining their struggles in accessing high-quality medical services (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019).
They can be demonstrated by considering American Indian and Alaskan Native peoples since they are characterized by the presence of the mentioned issues. Therefore, this paper aims to describe the selected group, its health status, disparities, nutritional challenges, barriers, health promotion activities, approaches for eliminating risks, and cultural specificities affecting their situation.
Description of the Group and its Health Status
American Indian and Alaskan Native patients are distinguished from other peoples by their unfavorable healthcare position. This minority group is significantly influenced by different circumstances, including poverty, discrimination, unemployment, and poor housing, which are more severe than the national average (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019).
Moreover, their problems are complicated by more frequent events of diseases, injuries, and the overall mortality rates (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019). These factors allow concluding on the low health status of these citizens. They are also connected to their combination of race and ethnicity since it adversely affects this area primarily in terms of infant deaths (“Disparities overview by race and ethnicity,” 2020). Therefore, this category of peoples requires particular attention for increasing their life expectancy.
Health Disparities and Nutritional Challenges
Another aspect of the matter is existing health disparities attributed to the American Indian and Alaskan Native population stemming from the circumstances described above. They are reflected in the statistics regarding the most common issues observed in them. According to these data, the group representatives struggle more with obesity and diabetes than their white counterparts (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019).
These problems are directly connected to their poor health behavior and disease management, especially concerning nutrition (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019). Therefore, the principal challenges in this regard are related to adopting improper treatment methods combined with risk factors correlating with the mentioned complications. As for nutritional challenges, they can be considered an outcome of poverty and wrong perceptions of healthy and unhealthy options.
Barriers to Health
The main barriers to health for American Indians and Alaskan Natives result from the two circumstances: the described difficulties related to their lifestyle and insufficiently effective government policies in this regard. The former is their preferences and risk behaviors leading to chronic diseases and the lack of teachings about wellness (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019). In turn, the latter is explained by the fact that only federally recognized tribes are included in the initiatives created by policymakers for improving their health and providing them with educational opportunities and other benefits (“Profile: American Indian/Alaska Native,” 2021).
These difficulties are added by lower income and representation in management and professional occupations, the absence of health insurance coverage, and geographic isolation preventing from receiving medical assistance (“Profile: American Indian/Alaska Native,” 2021). In this way, the challenge is presented by cultural, socioeconomic, and sociopolitical factors.
Common Health Promotion Activities
The common health promotion activities of American Indians and Alaskan Natives are quite scarce because of their traditional views on healthcare and the lack of awareness about bad habits, which negatively influence their status. Due to these conditions, they are also known for higher risks of heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries (accidents), and stroke, among other issues (“Profile: American Indian/Alaska Native,” 2021).
The factors frequently neglected by the representatives of this minority group are substance use, mental problems leading to various complications, and teenage pregnancy (“Profile: American Indian/Alaska Native,” 2021). The only practices to stay healthy reflecting their cultural perspectives are traditional medicine and moderate physical activity (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019). It means that this sphere should be improved alongside other interventions developed specifically for these peoples. This need is explained by its significance for the government’s capability to change the current pessimistic situation and ensure the coverage of all citizens by corresponding policies for better outcomes.
Approach for Health Promotion
One of the approaches, which is likely to be the most effective in a care plan given the unique needs of American Indians and Alaskan Natives, is the particular emphasis on different conditions typical for them. For example, at the primary level, the consideration of common diseases for these peoples is accompanied by elaborating measures on their prevention. They include programs educating them on the necessity of medical assistance in specific cases and the advantages of a healthy lifestyle (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019). At the secondary level, the interventions are health checks for the patients under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“Profile: American Indian/Alaska Native,” 2021).
Finally, at the tertiary level, the lack of availability and affordability of treatment is compensated by surveys among the citizens with disability and building on policy to remove the barriers to healthcare services (“Improving health outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native people with disabilities: A law and policy perspective,” 2020). Thus, these measures beneficially complement one another and thereby cover different types of problems in the field.
The suitability of the mentioned instruments to the current situation is conditional upon their usefulness in addressing the group’s varying needs. In other words, the provision of basic medical help, regular health checks, and the techniques for collecting data about people with serious diseases cover all the aspects of rendering healthcare services. From this point of view, they are the most effective options for American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
Cultural Beliefs and Practices
The cultural beliefs and practices ascribed to American Indian and Alaskan Native people are essential for assessing their health status. This fact can be explained by their strong connections to the group’s customs and traditions represented by their lifestyle (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019). Since these aspects are important, they often focus on traditional ways to maintain health and wellness, whereas this approach might be less efficient than official medicine. Thus, creating a care plan should be based on these considerations and the Purnell Model for Cultural Competence (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019). The latter implies the orientation on these specificities when helping the peoples and, therefore, would apply to the case.
To summarize, the situation of American Indian and Alaskan Native citizens regarding health is less optimistic than the national average indicators in the United States. These results are conditional upon higher risks for serious diseases, socioeconomic and political barriers, culture, and the government’s neglect of their problems. Thus, additional measures should be taken to ensure equality in the field and improve this minority group’s outcomes.
Disparities overview by race and ethnicity. (2020). Healthy People. Web.
Improving health outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native people with disabilities: A law and policy perspective. (2020). Healthy People. Web.
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2019). Healthy tribes. Web.
Profile: American Indian/Alaska Native. (2021). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Web.