At present, there are approximately 4.2 million, or 1.3%, of Native Americans and Alaskan Americans in the United States (United States Census Bureau, 2017). Despite the enhancement of the principles of diversity and inclusion in modern American society, the health-related needs of the specified demographics have not been met fully yet (Torre et al., 2016). Therefore, there is an urgent necessity to promote health among the specified demographic.
The health issues faced by the communities of Native Americans and Alaskan Americans in the U.S. are only beginning to be discovered, yet they are already very numerous. For example, high rates of cancer and diabetes are reported as crucial concerns among Native Americans (Edlin, Eckhardt, Shu, Holmberg, & Swan, 2015). The lack of connectivity between Native Americans and U.S. health services should be regarded as the key obstacle on the way to improving the health status of the target demographic (Torre et al., 2016).
The differences between the interpretation of health as it is seen by Native Americans and U.S. healthcare and nursing organizations can also be the roadblocks to facilitating a healthy environment for the identified population (Torre et al., 2016). According to the beliefs of Native Americans, health is linked directly not to the physical or mental state of an individual but to their spirituality (Edlin et al., 2015). Therefore, maintaining harmony with the environment in which one lives is viewed as a crucial component of an efficient health management approach (Torre et al., 2016). Therefore, when introducing health interventions in the context of Native American society, one will have to consider focusing on spirituality as one of the crucial components of a health management strategy.
Due to the holistic outlook on the phenomenon of health and well-being, most Native American tribes have a roughly similar concept of health and health management. For instance, viewing health as an integral entity comprising of four key notions, including physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional well-being, is deemed as the common way of addressing health concerns in most Native American tribes (Torre et al., 2016). Herein lies the reason for defining the notion of a disease as non-health, i.e., the state of being unwell that comes from the lack of balance between the stated four components (Edlin et al., 2015).
Being significantly marginalized in the modern American community, Native Americans face a range of health disparities. The observed phenomenon can be attributed to the drastic economic and financial condition in which the representatives of the Native Americans live, as well as low education rates and the fact that most Native Americans live in reservations, thus, being distanced from healthcare services. The fact that reservations are mostly located in rural communities, where the quality of care and the speed of its delivery may suffer due to the lack of resources, Native Americans are forced to suffer from a range of health disparities.
The overall life expectancy rate is significantly lower among Native Americans than the one observed among the rest of the American population (Torre et al., 2016). In addition, there is a strong propensity among Native Americans to develop cancer (United States Census Bureau, 2017). Heart diseases and diabetes are also very common among Native Americans, as well as unintentional injuries (Edlin et al., 2015).
The health problems listed above typically make most of the causes of death among the Native American population (Torre et al., 2016). The lack of funding provided for Native American healthcare, in turn, can be seen as one of the primary factors determining negative patient outcomes among Native Americans (Edlin et al., 2015). Therefore, it is imperative to come up with an intervention and a program for building health awareness that contributes to a rise in the rates of funding for Native American healthcare.
To implement positive changes in the realm of the Native American community and encourage a rise in health management rates, one will have to complete the primary, secondary, and tertiary steps for health promotion. The primary stage will involve introducing alterations to Native American healthcare on a legislative level. Change in legal standards of care will entail the creation of a set of rigid guidelines for healthcare practitioners and nurses to follow when offering care to Native Americans.
Patient education should also be integrated into the primary stage. The secondary level will include meeting the needs of Native American populations that have already been affected by a specific disease. Thus, the provision of tests, exams, diet modifications, etc., has to be seen as crucial. Finally, the tertiary stage will require creating rehabilitation programs for the Native Americans that have been affected by a chronic or an ongoing disease (Torre et al., 2016).
Therefore, the creation of programs helping manage pain, promote patient education, increase the efficacy of community support, etc., must be regarded as essential. By focusing on the enhancement of communication between the members of Native American communities and American healthcare organizations, one will create a system in which the specified demographic will no longer feel marginalized in healthcare. Furthermore, a comprehensive framework for meeting the needs of Native Americans based on their understanding of health will be created.
Edlin, B. R., Eckhardt, B. J., Shu, M. A., Holmberg, S. D., & Swan, T. (2015). Toward a more accurate estimate of the prevalence of hepatitis C in the United States. Hepatology, 62(5), 1353-1363.
Torre, L. A., Sauer, A. M. G., Chen, M. S., Kagawa‐Singer, M., Jemal, A., & Siegel, R. L. (2016). Cancer statistics for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, 2016: Converging incidence in males and females. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 66(3), 182-202.
United States Census Bureau. (2017). Population estimates, July 1, 2016, (V2016). Web.
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