Diabetes is a disease that causes high blood sugar levels. The Type 2 variant, which disrupts the body’s ability to properly use insulin, is very common and is a global health concern. Yet, the impact of the condition varies based on social, cultural, and geographic factors. We will look into the differences and similarities in diabetes care, management, and how it is perceived in urban black and brown communities and in rural areas. This should shed some light on the diverse ways the disease is experienced by these populations.
Urban Black and Brown Communities
Unique cultural dynamics affect the perceptions these communities have when it comes to diabetes care. In turn, this affects how well people manage their conditions. Other social factors that influence health here include higher stress levels, lack of fresh and affordable food, and a lack of good health care resources often affects people in urban black and brown communities.
A lack of financial resources often affects people living in these places. This results in problems like a lack of health insurance or insufficient coverage, a lack of transportation, and long wait times for appointments at affordable clinics. Even with an appointment, patients may have to wait for hours at the clinic, which forces them to lose a whole day of work – and desperately needed money – to be seen by a doctor. This causes many to forego medical attention.
The diets prevalent in black and brown communities are rich in carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. This is due to historical factors as well as economic and social factors. While this food can be delicious, it also greatly increases the risk of getting diabetes.
Stigma can be a huge problem in black and brown communities. Some patients in these cultural surroundings try so hard to appear “normal” that they do not properly manage their diabetes, thereby making their conditions worse. Compounding this problem is the fact that historical mistreatment by the medical community has led to a distrust of doctors, which translates into a reluctance to see them. This delays diagnosis and the beginning of treatment.
Rural people deal with unique challenges due to their locations away from services that are easier to get in cities. Limited access to medical facilities, unique cultural practices, and a lack of educational resources combine to increase diabetes risk and worsen outcomes for rural residents.
Lack of Access to Health Care
The lack of easy access to health care facilities and medical specialists is a real problem for all conditions, and chronic health issues like diabetes are often poorly managed because of it.
Cultural traditions, such as the use of herbal medicines and community healers, can worsen outcomes for people with diabetes. This is because even though some herbal remedies work, they can conflict with treatments recommended by modern medicine. Just like with prescription drugs, bad interactions are possible and can lead to very negative results.
Many rural people know how to live cheaply. This allows them to live decently well even when there isn’t a regular job to be found in 50 miles, but leaves no room for things like emergencies or ongoing medical care, which can get expensive very quickly. Because of this, there is strong financial pressure to avoid going to doctors and to try to fix health problems on their own. Rural cultures reinforce these practices, especially among men, who are seen as more capable if they can “take care of themselves” without a doctor’s intervention.
Similarities Between These Populations and the Challenges they Face in Dealing with Diabetes Care
- Limited Resources: Both urban and rural communities deal with limited access to healthy food, health care outlets, or educational materials that discuss diabetes. Their cultures also reinforce not spending any serious money on doctors. This makes prevention and treatment harder.
- Cultural Traditions that Interfere with Blood Sugar Health: Both urban and rural populations have practices and beliefs that can hinder good diabetes management. Religious or spiritual beliefs may lead to poor dietary choices, and family and community support (or the lack thereof) have a strong impact on patients’ willingness to adhere to treatment regimens.
- Health Disparities: Socioeconomic factors drive health disparities in both urban and rural communities, with lower income levels being related to a lack of adequate heath care. This can lead to poor management of diabetes.
- Lifestyle Choices: Urban and rural communities, like many others, struggle with sedentary lifestyles. Increased screen time and less physical activity contribute to the risk of diabetes.
Understanding the differences and similarities between urban black and brown communities and rural populations is a great help for those seeking to address the complexities that affect the outcome of diabetes. Though these settings have different cultural dynamics and related challenges, they have common aspects involving the intersection of cultural traditions, lifestyle challenges, and health disparities. This makes it so that not every approach needs to be customized.
Even so, those working to address diabetes – from diagnosis to ongoing treatment – need to be sensitive to the cultures of their patients. To tailor their services to each community’s unique needs. By paying attention to cultural nuances and shared experiences, health care providers, policymakers, and communities can work together to create effective strategies for the prevention and management of diabetes as well as for increasing education about the condition.
How FQHCs Help Address These Issues
FQHCs seek to address these problems in a variety of ways. They offer sliding fee scales that make their services affordable to everyone – even those who can’t pay. They have health care providers who are aware of the unique aspects of the cultures they serve. In some areas, they even provide transportation. Finally, they educate people on the signs, symptoms, management, and prevention of diabetes.
If you run a value-based health care center and want to take it to the next level contact us here at Clinify Health. We specialize in providing customized practice transformation services and giving you access to actionable information.