Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Empowerment: Healthcare Professionals' and Community Members' Contributions

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Empowerment: Healthcare Professionals' and Community Members' Contributions

Article excerpt

Abstract: Healthcare disparities for minorities are well reported and related to individual, provider and system characteristics. This paper reports a meta-synthesis of "empowerment" with Hispanic and Latino people. This meta-synthesis utilized Noblit and Hare's meta-ethnographic method (1988) examining seven qualitative studies to discover strategies of empowerment by healthcare professionals for Hispanic/Latino people. Three themes were disclosed: strategies for empowerment, sharing power, and growth of the Hispanic/Latino culture in the United States. These themes expand existing conceptualizations of ways in which health care professionals and community members can work in a participatory research approach to improve healthcare outcomes as well as empowering the community.

Key Words: Hispanic/Latino, Empowerment, Meta-synthesis, Participatory Research

Health literature has long acknowledged inequities in health care for minorities. Health statistics report that 17% of Hispanics are in fair to poor health as compared to 10% of white Americans (National Health Disparities Report, 2004). The barriers encountered when attempting to enter the health care system result in poor health outcomes for Hispanics compared to whites. A primary reason for inaccessibility to healthcare is lack of insurance which leads to delays in seeking medical care. Hispanic children are three times more likely than white children not to have a primary health care provider. Thirteen percent of Hispanic Americans depend on hospital emergency room or clinics for primary care compared to eight percent of White Americans (U .S. Surgeon General's Report, 2004).

According to Flaskerud & Anderson (1999), healthcare providers as the sole party capable of making healthcare decisions, is changing. Healthcare has increasingly recognized that with the growing number of racial and ethnic minorities seeking healthcare, traditional approaches do not work. This has lead to a growing emphasis on having minorities be actively involved in the collaborating and decision-making process of improving their healthcare needs. An important part of this trend is a growing approach to research that empowers impacted parties to become active participants, known as participatory research. One of the core principles of this approach is to empower people.

Empowering minorities is one approach to achieving positive healthcare outcomes. The literature supports that when people are empowered they can operationalize empowerment in terms of positive health outcomes and prevention that can possibly promote social change (Freiré, 1997; Kendall, 1998; Wallerstein & Bernstein, 1998) with vulnerable populations such as the Hispanic /Latinos (H /L). People who feel empowered and are collectively empowered as a community display more personal responsibility for their community (Wallerstein, 2002).

Currently there are a number of qualitative studies from various disciplines that utilize this approach in empowering communities. Findings from a number of these qualitative studies are accruing. A meta-synthesis of these studies can assist healthcare providers in providing additional insights to their practice. Although there were qualitative studies on empowering minorities such as the H /Ls, there was no published meta-synthesis found in the literature. The intention of this author was to carry out a meta-synthesis of seven qualitative studies and to capture the essence of a new perspective on the topic of empowerment specifically for H /Ls in the United States. This meta-synthesis study was guided by the following research question: what are the contributions of healthcare professionals to empowering Hispanic /Latinos?

METHOD

Research Design

The research design used for this study was qualitative and the method was a meta-synthesis. A metasynthesis is the collection of studies, with the aim of uncovering the key aspects of the studies. …

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