For far too long, racial and ethnic minorities and underserved communities have experienced health disparities – negative impacts of health and disease due to differences in access to or availability of health services or programs. For example, in the United States, the infant mortality rate for African Americans and American Indians is more than twice that of the national average. The situation doesn’t improve as children grow up. Men and women of color die on average 5 years earlier than their white counterparts and disparities among Hispanic Americans are increasing.
During National Minority Health Month 2018 in April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the Office of Minority Health (OMH) have been drawing attention to impactful collaborations that promote health equity and help improve the health of minorities in the U.S.
Through our partnerships and programs, HLM aims to eliminate health disparities by ensuring that all people have access to and understand the information they need to make good health decisions and live their healthiest life.
Because our health is influenced by many factors, partnerships are often the most effective approach for addressing these health disparities. By collaborating within and across fields such as communication, education, justice, housing, transportation, nutrition, environmental health, and employment, we can help individuals live longer and healthier lives. Here are 3 ways we help our partners to clearly communicate with their audiences to help advance health equity:
Incorporate culturally appropriate practices
Involve members of the intended audience in the development of materials
Use focus groups and other methods to test materials with the intended audience
Use culturally relevant visuals
Use photographs and other images that feature members of the intended audience
Avoid typical references or visuals that perpetuate stereotypes
Use other graphic elements such as color, illustrations, and icons intentionally based on input from the intended audience
Use culturally sensitive language
Use medically-trained interpreters for in-person communication
Use medically-trained translators for written communication
Use language the intended audience prefers based on feedback or research
There are all kinds of resources available to help you communicate in a culturally appropriate way. Here are just a few: