Gaining Trust with Cultural Disparities
Trust plays a fundamental role in various medical relations, as well as makes vital contribution to a positive health outcomes. Poor patient-doctor interaction leads to the lack of trust which often reduces the use of healthcare services. Patients need to trust doctors because, being ill and lacking medical knowledge, they have no other option but to resort to the assistance of healthcare practitioners, that is to rely on them and believe they will act by the best interests. Apart from impeding the access to medical care services, the lack of trust results in patients refraining from disclosing important medical information. In this article I would like to discusses the importance of relying on the healthcare system the African Americans’ distrust of the healthcare system, and the way of treating such patients. The current topic also shows how the healthcare system has served African Americans over the course of history and today.
Mistrust of Health Care System among African Americans
Mistrust of healthcare systems among African Americans is attributed to a number of historical events including experimentation, involuntary fertilization and family planning, the screening initiative for sickle cell, and their experiences with a segregated healthcare system. Discreditation of professional help by African American patients developed on the basis that the current state of this sphere has been established through experimentation with African Americans. There have been numerous cases of experiments with them, especially during and even after the years of slavery. During this period, American health researchers performed bold, occasionally brilliant medical feats on the poor African Americans. In another case of experimentation during the years of slavery, a smallpox virus was injected to hundreds of African Americans to make it possible for scientists to assess the safety of a new vaccine. Post-slavery experimentation was also rampant, with the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment reinforcing the negative perception of the healthcare system.
Another factor shaping the African Americans’ attitude towards medicine is the involuntary fertilization and family planning initiatives. In the course of the US history, the government employed birth control and family planning as a means of limiting the number of African Americans. For instance, in the 1930s, with this respect, the control clinics were often financed by government. During the 1970s, and the doctors refused to deliver African American babies except on condition that the woman agreed to sterilization. Occasionally, African Americans functioned as the source of entertainment in medical conventions and instrumental materials for teaching medical practitioners. some leading researchers in early 20th century claimed that African Americans need a different treatment since they are biologically inferior when compared to Whites. Such attitude along with continuous experimentations and involuntary sterilization caused African-American population to develop extreme distrust in healthcare system.
Importance of Trust
Since distrust influences the seeking behavior of patients it is significantly important to rely on healthcare practitioners. Apart from that, it can to help in decision making about treatment recommendation and seeking care. If a patient trusts a doctor, he or she is more likely to revisit when another illness strikes rather than assuming the sickness and staying at home without recognizing the problem. Moreover, the trust will help with being open and honest with one’s caregiver. Trust is also crucial since it helps the patients to answer questions concerning their health freely and without fear that the private information might be disclosed. Mistrust may leads to rather opposite outcome, frequently resulting in patients not being able to agree with the doctor’s results, or changes of physicians, and rejecting the treatment. Thus, it is possible to treat patients who lack trust in the healthcare system.
Such a problem, however, can be resolved by exercising culturally-responsive care practices helping to minimize miscommunication that worsens and differentiates culturally harsh encounters in medical systems. Also, ethnically-based health difference can be abridged in the areas they exist. Despite listening to and accommodating patients, physicians in culturally competent care should be informed of their personal assumptions about medicine culture. Besides, it is vital to have cultural respect and humility towards those who is different. At some point, it will be essential to reconsider the western clinical practices to fit the patient's values and beliefs. Since cultural groups often contribute to suspicion of caregivers and health systems, it is vital to have trust for service satisfactory.
How the Healthcare System has Served African Americans
During the Reconstruction and Deluxe Jim Crow era, the medical systems were divided along ethnic lines, and African Americans were oppressed hence tempering with their ability to be equal with the whites in the society. The isolation was evident and the ability of African Americans to access medical care equally with the whites was affected by the implemented laws separating them from the rest of the society. Despite the oppression from the government, the state and federal, the activists of equality and some organizations worked to uphold desegregation, medical education, and healthcare. For example, An Alabama law from 1915 stated that no White female nurse is to be found working inwards containing African American men. This is a bright example of the racial discrimination that took place in health care sphere during the early 20th century.
Another problem that African Americans encountered in their attempt to get quality medical attention was a lack of proper facilities. While sufficient health care and proper transportation were located primarily in the urban areas, rural areas lacked hospitals thus leaving African American patients untreated. The genesis of all African American’s problems started with Jim Crow Laws. In the mid-1960s, desegregation finally occurred with the help of 1964 Civil Rights Act. Later, hospitals were funded by the federal government, therefore becoming public and not being able to refuse Black patients treatment which would otherwise lead to a violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution of the U.S. It can be inferred that barriers such as financing and discrimination have limited the utilization and quality of healthcare for African Americans. Despite the efforts to address this problems, racial disparities in healthcare outcomes are still evident.
In accessing a quality cost effective health care, trust in a patient-doctor relationship is of high importance. African Americans were constantly used for experiments in a health facility that lead to growth of mistrust making it difficult for patients to seek proper medical attention when needed. Trust is essential for it helps patients to speak without fear with their care providers, thus assisting physicians in treating the appropriate illness with the needed medication. Cultural responsive care practices are important in building the trust of African Americans towards healthcare. The decision to fund hospitals by the federal government helped in the construction of more public health facilities, thus making accessibility, quality, and cost slightly manageable.
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