Honoring Equal-Rights Advocates by Undertaking Health Disparities
Every February, in honor of Black History Month, we are blanketed with stories of heroism and reminded of the arduous times Americans have gone through to make positive changes for the future.
Though celebrations have been held nationwide to commemorate our nation’s milestones, simultaneous government budget cuts to critical cancer screenings threaten to impact the health and lives of African Americans and other minorities.
As reported in a great Huffington Post article authored by business reporter Janelle Ross, Blacks and Latinas made up less than 30 percent of the nation’s 2011 population. These groups also made up almost half of the country’s uninsured population.
It is imperative that healthcare communicators effectively publicize methods for closing healthcare gaps for minorities. Even more importantly is ensuring messages reach the intended audience(s).
Below are examples of methods to do this for today’s societal leaders and healthcare crusaders.
Empower the Audience
Similarly stated by the inspiring Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute and one of my favorite physicians, Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, it is essential that support systems be infused into healthcare campaigns.
- It is not enough to say a message and state where individuals can get more information. It is about providing tools that empower. I’m proud that a client of mine, the Cancer Support Community, is doing this through a new program focusing on improving physician-patient communications.
Pursue Partnerships that Overcome Cultural Barriers
Look at social science studies and conduct your own research to identify groups that can disseminate health information into the “right hands.”
- When doing local outreach, think creatively. It may not be a disease-focused organization, but instead, a nontraditional partner, like a hair salon that can get the information to your audience (check out this cool case study). On a national level, interview some advocate organizations to identify education gaps and brainstorm how these can be filled.
Deliver the Data that Resonates
Assemble quantitative and qualitative data that has enough of the population at hand (don’t have a survey that only includes 30 minority participants and try to use it) and addresses the problem to help state your objective.
- Here’s an example: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a patient’s self-assessment of health is a reliable indicator of health and well-being. When asked about health status, minorities are MORE likely than whites to characterize their health status as fair. (Issue to be addressed – education about what healthy means).