Why Minority Health?Racial and ethnic differences in health perceptions and health behaviors are often unconventional when compared to modern medicine and can hinder the process of healing and promotion. This is especially the case when health care providers have not received training in cultural competence. Lack of knowledge about the cultural beliefs and health behaviors of a patient can be detrimental to the provision of care.
Although ethnic and cultural beliefs have a powerful influence over the health of minority populations, it is widely observed that socioeconomic status has greater impact on health than does race and ethnicity. Due to the overwhelming representation of minorities living below the poverty line in Louisiana, the socioeconomic factor becomes especially relevant to minority health. Level of income tends to dictate where groups live, and therefore what services are available to them. Geographic isolation from health care services is a great disadvantage to many minority populations. Poverty prolongs poor health status and eventually poverty itself. Poor nutrition, inaccessibility to health care providers, and inability to pay for services are all factors which result from poverty and lead to poor health status. Poverty and poor health are also detrimental to education attainment, as accessibility and ability to afford are impacted by income levels, and poor health affects one's functioning in an academic environment.