Respond to the following peer discussions:
Medically vulnerable populations consist of those who have poor access to healthcare, receive poor quality of care, or experience poor health outcomes. Unfortunately, this vulnerability is often related to race, ethnicity, poverty, gender, age, first language, or physical and mental health conditions (Vulnerable populations, 2023). Those who are part of the low-income population are more likely to be medically underserved and vulnerable for multiple reasons. First, they are less likely to have health coverage which results in less overall interaction with the healthcare system. Additionally, they are more likely to have multiple health conditions and these conditions tend to be more severe due to a lack of preventive care (Joszt, 2018). Those who are considered low-income typically struggle to afford needs such as housing, food, and childcare which causes stress and can lead to higher rates of tobacco and alcohol use, increasing the risk of developing health problems. The lack of funds to afford childcare may also mean that there is less time for individuals to seek out and use preventive care services. To summarize, a study conducted by Cunningham (2018) found that those in the low-income population are more likely to have poor self-reported health risks, have more mental health problems, have more limited access to care, and use less preventive healthcare. Chronically ill and disabled individuals are at a higher risk for poor health outcomes due to their conditions. Additionally, they consume more healthcare dollars than the average healthy individual will. Chronically ill patients are more likely to report poor health days and typically have many interactions with the healthcare system but may have difficulty accessing care on a daily basis (Joszt, 2018). One example of this can be found in a study conducted by Winkfield et al (2021), which found that unfairness in healthcare exists across the entire cancer care continuum.
As of 2019, the United States Census Bureau concluded that 30% of the United States is made up of minorities. Of these, 13.3% are African American, 17.8% are Hispanic or Latino, 5.7% are Asian, 0.2% are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 1.3% are American Indian or Alaska Native. Additionally, 2.6% of the United States population identifies as being of two or more races (Shi & Singh, 2019). Each of these races faces its own health challenges when compared with Caucasian Americans, but these issues can be summarized into a few key points. The first is that minorities have poorer access to health services, while also having a higher rate of illness and mortality in both the infant and general population. Additionally, minorities tend to have lower measures of perceived health status (Shi & Singh, 2019). All of these factors play a role in creating a more medically needy population.
In the healthcare field, it is important to provide care equally for all who need it. This is a reflection of what God commanded of Christians in John 13:34 which says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (English Standard Version 2001/2016). As healthcare professionals, we should strive to fulfill this commandment by providing the highest quality of care possible to medically vulnerable populations.
Describe the health needs of rural residents and summarize the major challenges they face.
Residents living in rural locations have been shown to have poorer health outcomes when compared to their urban counterparts (Johnston et al., 2019). There are several factors that contribute to this damaging situation. The infrastructure for public health in rural areas is lacking and only 10% of all physicians practice in rural locations. Most physicians are found in metropolitan or suburban areas due to the fact that these areas offer “better prospects for living standards, professional interaction, access to modern facilities and technology, and professional growth” (Shi & Singh, 2019). Physician demand in rural locations is less than in metropolitan or suburban areas simply due to the fact that there is less demand because of less population density. This does not mean, however, that rural residents have fewer health needs. Quite the contrary is true. Those who live in rural areas have been shown to have a 40% higher rate of preventable hospital visits and even a 23% higher mortality rate when compared to residents living in urban areas (Johnston et al., 2019). In addition, residents of rural areas have been shown to have increased prevalence for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, mental health disorders, tobacco use, and substance abuse (Shi & Singh, 2019). Studies have looked at this rural-urban difference in preventable hospitalizations and found that 55% of the difference can be explained by the lack of access to specialists. Furthermore, when looking at the difference in mortality between the two groups, 40% of the difference can be explained by the lack of access to specialists.
Describe the health needs of the homeless and summarize the major challenges they face.
On any given night, over half a million people are homeless in the U. S. and more than 20% of them are families or children (Shi & Singh, 2019). Assessing the health care needs of these homeless can be a challenge due to the transitory nature of their living situation. Despite this, though, studies have shown that the homeless have a myriad of health issues. Because of the environment that they live in, communicable disease can spread quickly. Also, comorbid chronic conditions, mental illness, substance abuse, and depression all exist in the homeless population at higher rates than the general population. The mental illness component worsens health conditions of the homeless such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, epilepsy, and cancer. “The inability to access medications and treatments can become insurmountable barriers when there is a need to focus on basic survival skills including nutrition, safety, hygiene, and shelter” (Kiser & Hulton, 2018). Put another way, the homeless are focused on short-term survival needs rather than long-term treatments for illnesses. Many homeless people have reported negative interactions with physicians in office or inpatient settings, even using words such as demeaning or degrading to describe these interactions. Their opinions alter drastically, however, when considering social workers or voluntary efforts to help the homeless community. Those are positively received. Standard methods of health care delivery do not work with the homeless and typical strategies need to be altered. Strategies that have shown to be most effective are those that meet the homeless where they are (Kiser & Hulton, 2018).
What are the racial/ethnic minority categories in the U. S.?
Racial or ethnic minority categories fall under the umbrella of “Predisposing Characteristics”, according to Shi & Singh. These are “attributes that predispose individuals to vulnerability” and include such things as demographic characteristics, belief systems, and social structure variables (Shi & Singh, 2019). According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the main categories for race are white, black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and a group called “some other race” (Shi & Singh, 2019).
Compared with Caucasian Americans, what are the health challenges minorities face?
Research has shown that minorities have worse access to health services when compared to Caucasian Americans. This difference in access to health care still exists after accounting for the presence of insurance, socioeconomic status, and health status (Shi & Singh, 2019). This difference in access to care greatly affects the health of minorities. In America, minorities have rates of illness that are higher, infant mortality rates that are higher, adult mortality rates that are higher, infant birth weights that are lower. Even though minorities have rates of illness that are higher, the rates at which diagnostic testing, preventive screenings, clinical procedures, and surgical treatments are done is lower (Shi & Singh, 2019). The federal government has many
Jesus was far from silent when it comes to how we should treat the poor, marginalized, and underserved. In the 25th chapter of the Book of Matthew, Christ very pointedly says “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (English Standard Version Bible, 2016). The seriousness of the issue of how we treat the poor, marginalized, and underserved is made evident in the next verse, where Christ details “Then he will say to those on his left, depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (English Standard Version Bible, 2016). The punishment for not caring for those with special health needs is most severe. As Christians in the health care marketplace the question of whether we should have health care for the poor has already been answered. It is simply up to us to determine how.
*three sources each, biblical integration
*cite: Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2019). Outpatient services and primary care. In Essentials of the U.S.health care system (Fifth, pp. 154–181). essay, Jones and Bartlett.
*use different sources for each response
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of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40, English Standard Version). This passage emphasizes the importance of caring for vulnerable populations and treating them with love and compassion.
In the healthcare field, it is crucial to recognize the unique health needs and challenges faced by different vulnerable populations. Two such populations discussed by my peers are low-income individuals and minorities.
Low-income individuals often have poor access to healthcare and experience poorer health outcomes. They are less likely to have health coverage, leading to less interaction with the healthcare system. Additionally, they may have multiple health conditions that are more severe due to a lack of preventive care. Financial stressors may also contribute to higher rates of tobacco and alcohol use, further increasing health risks. Childcare affordability may limit their ability to seek preventive care services. Overall, individuals in low-income populations have poorer self-reported health, more mental health problems, limited access to care, and utilize preventive healthcare services less (Lydia).
Minorities in the United States face disparities in health access and outcomes. They have poorer access to health services and tend to have higher rates of illness and mortality in both the general and infant populations. Additionally, minorities often have lower measures of perceived health status. These factors contribute to a more medically needy population among minorities (Lydia).
Rural residents also face significant health challenges. They have been shown to have poorer health outcomes compared to urban residents. The lack of infrastructure for public health and limited physician availability are major challenges. Rural areas have fewer physicians due to better prospects in metropolitan or suburban areas. Consequently, rural residents have higher rates of preventable hospital visits and increased prevalence of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, mental health disorders, and substance abuse (Franklin).
Homeless individuals have unique healthcare needs and face significant challenges. The transitory nature of their living situation complicates access to healthcare. Homeless individuals are more susceptible to communicable diseases and have higher rates of comorbid chronic conditions, mental illness, substance abuse, and depression. Their focus on immediate survival needs makes it difficult to prioritize long-term treatments. Negative interactions with physicians in healthcare settings have been reported, highlighting the need for tailored strategies that meet the homeless where they are (Franklin).
In terms of racial and ethnic minorities, categories in the U.S. include white, black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and “some other race”. Compared to Caucasian Americans, minorities face disparities in access to healthcare and higher rates of illness, infant mortality, adult mortality, and lower infant birth weights. Even diagnostic testing, preventive screenings, clinical procedures, and surgical treatments are performed at lower rates among minorities (Franklin).
As medical professionals, it is our duty to provide equal care for all individuals and fulfill the commandment to love one another. This includes addressing the specific health needs and challenges faced by vulnerable populations, such as low-income individuals, minorities, rural residents, and the homeless. By advocating for and implementing strategies that meet their unique needs, we can work towards reducing health disparities and providing high-quality care to all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status or racial/ethnic background.