The perception of health and illness vary with time and from one community to another (Katz, 2013). In the United States, chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes are considered as the main causes of disability, illness, and death. As asserted by Katz (2013), chronic diseases account for about 80% of mortality among the members of middle and low-income families within the nation. This is due to the fact that most of these individuals live in urban settings where the environment is not favorable on the health of individuals. According to the 2010 census reports, 80.7% of the US population live in urban settings where physical, social, and economic factors such as pollution, diet, transportation, lifestyle and access to medical care encourage the prevalence of chronic and lifestyle diseases (Katz, 2013).
Stereotypic threat is a psychological condition in which an individual is confronted by negative stereotypic personalities and behaviors (Schmader, Johns, and Forbes, 2008). The resultant stereotype behavior is usually determined by factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, and social status. During my placement at a medical facility, I had an experiential experience of stereotypic threat while handling a patient who has been recently diagnosed with diabetes. Given the fact that this individual was from a low-income society and from a Hispanic background, he felt isolated because most of the other patients were from middle-income societies and from white communities. These factors had a significant impact on the patient especially with regards to his perception of the clinical setting since he started viewing himself as a minority, second-class citizen. As a result, the patient started viewing himself as unintelligent resulting in detrimental outcomes in his care program. This was due to the fact that the patient did not adhere to treatment instructions and the fact that he had low efficacy and motivational levels. Consequently, his communication skills were impaired due to the anxiety that he had hence negatively affecting his discourse and fluency. Finally, the patient developed a discounting feedback especially with regards to his HbA1c levels. All these factors had a detrimental effect on his care and recovery program and hence it was difficult for the medical team to manage and control his diabetic condition during the early days of treatment.
In the United States, people who live in high levels of income inequality experience high rates of mortality (Wright, 2010). This is because healthcare in the United States, as in many other nations, is determined by the amount of disposable income an individual has. Individuals from love levels of income inequality can afford expensive medical insurance cover and hence can access the medical facilities that offer high-tech medical care as compared to individuals from low income societies who can only afford basic insurance and hence seek medical care from public medical facilities.
With reference to the incident above, the diabetic patient had a Hispanic background but was born and raised in the USA. However, given his racial background, he did not get quality education and also it was difficult for him to get a well paying job. To support himself and his family, he had to work in odd jobs where he received basic health insurance among other benefits. Most of the other patients in the facility at the time had good careers and hence their health insurance had more benefits as compared to the patient at hand. These individuals thus had regular medical check-ups and screenings that enabled them to identify, control, and eliminate diseases during their early stages. This patient however, had just been diagnosed with diabetes, a fact that affected him psychologically and had a detrimental impact in his care program. This situation is common in the United States and is avoidable by ensuring every citizen has a reliable health insurance and access to quality health care irrespective of their social or economic backgrounds.
Katz, D. (2013). Disease Proof. New York: Penguin Publishing Group.
Schmader, T., Johns, M. and Forbes, C. (2008). An integrated process model of stereotype threat effects on performance. Psychological Review, 115(2), 336-56
Wright, E. (2010). Class counts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press