Differences Of American Indians And Alaska Natives

1386 Words 6 Pages
Register to read the introduction… Cultural and spiritual views, history, and educational status affect how this group defines health promotion.
Cultural Views
Cultural values within the AI/AN population affect behavior, attitudes, and beliefs about healthcare. Cultural and language barriers exist, especially if westernized treatment is sought. Usually, these barriers keep this ethnic group from approaching westernized medical care.
Spiritual Views
Spirituality also affects how this ethnic group views health. For many years, they were taught that interconnectedness of all things leads to a relationship among man, God, fellow man, and nature. An imbalance in the spiritual, mental, physical, and social interactions of the individual and his or her family or clan is viewed as an illness (Bennahum, 1998).
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What Health Disparities Exist for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Health disparities are believed to be the result of the complex interaction among genetic variations, environmental factors, and specific health behaviors (US DHHS, 2000). This paper will look at three health disparities that affect AI/AN’s: mental illness, chronic illness, and death due to accidents.
Mental Illness
There are many types of mental illness. The most diagnosed mental illnesses among AI/AN’s are depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol dependence. Depression and post-traumatic stress, when left untreated, often lead to suicide. Death due to suicide among this ethnic group is 72% higher that that of the national average. Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death amongst this ethnic group (CDC, 2015). Alcohol dependence usually results in chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. Death due to theses alcohol related illnesses and alcohol related accidents is seven times the national average.
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To reach all age and illness levels, a program similar to D.A.R.E. may be needed. The first part of the program would be aimed at teaching the affects of smoking, including second-hand smoke, on the body and discourage the habit from ever starting (primary). Another part of the program would be teaching about the benefits of screening for early detection of disease processes related to smoking. Cancer and heart screenings would be part of this (secondary). Classes could also be offered on smoking cessation to try to keep these illnesses from developing further. The final aspect of the program would be to focus on treatment options that are available for long-term illnesses present due to smoking

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