Health Disparities Among Filipino Americans

1412 Words Jul 11th, 2011 6 Pages
Health Disparities: Focus on the Filipino-American Population in the USA

As a Filipino-American nurse living in Los Angeles, California, this writer has been a witness and an active participant in the multifactorial influences/aspects that affect the Filipino-Americans, in health and illness. Being a grandmother of wonderful grandkids has brought me further exposure to the plight of elderly Filipino-Americans in the United States of America.
The Institute of Medicine’s Report on Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial/Ethical Disparities in Health Care states that cultural bias is one contributor to racial and ethnic minorities having higher rates of poor health outcomes than Whites in the case of disease; even when income, employment
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They tend to rely on their families for support since the majority of them are not eligible for government health care funds and social security benefits.
In addition to financial constraints, lack of mobility or minimal English proficiency and tenacious adherence to their own Filipino cultural and health beliefs can create a barrier to health care utilization. “Bahala na” basically means “whatever will be, will be.” As a way of supporting good health and in responding to illness, Filipinos have this unusual ability to accept things as they are. This position enables many Filipino-Americans to accept, and endure, great suffering including suffering from illness or injury. “Hiya” refers to a deep impulse to protect against a loss of face, especially if there are differences of opinion in a group on a sensitive matter. Such protection can be for one’s own sake or for another person. One example is misunderstandings due to language barriers. Some patients may not express it openly, but feel shamed or embarrassed in front of health care providers when they cannot understand or be understood properly. Further, older Filipino-American patients have difficulty in communicating effectively with health care providers. This can turn into an urgent problem if and when Filipino-Americans suffer from a high incidence of chronic and/or serious illness (such as diabetes or TB). “Kapwa” suggests “togetherness” and equality of status regardless of class or
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