|Attendees packed Sunday's Product Theater presentation, ‘The Importance of Multicultural Awareness and Competency in Diabetes Care.'
African-Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes, and a large share of the community is distrustful of the health care system, creating a double whammy when trying to treat diabetes. A presentation in the NMA Product Theater Sunday addressed how the medical community can work to overcome that distrust.
"The Importance of Multicultural Awareness and Competency in Diabetes Care" presented statistics showing that 38.9 million African-Americans are diabetic, and African-American women are 1.5 times more likely than African-American men to have diabetes.
Many barriers exist to limit progress in reducing those numbers, including lack of insurance, lack of exercise and a diet that is high on sodium, whole milk and fried foods. Anthony J. Cannon, M.D., a clinical endocrinologist from Hamilton, N.J., discussed two approaches to removing those barriers that focused on how health care professionals approach treatment of African-Americans, including discussion of diet.
"You should work on the modification of food preparation," Dr. Cannon said. "You should discuss modifying how much they eat, but not the diet."
Dr. Cannon recommended that health care professionals respect the conflicts between dietary recommendations and cultural aspects of diets by encouraging patients to modify sodium, fat and sugar content of traditional foods.
That measured approach and good communication may also help physicians win the trust of their patients, he said.
"As a general rule, eye contact is very important during both the listening and talking phases of any discussion. Also, discuss information on a level that is understandable and acceptable to the patient," Dr. Cannon said, adding that physicians should talk to the family, not just the patient.
Beyond winning trust, it is just as important to also win the respect of the patient.
"The most important tip is that it is important for your African-American patients to feel respected," Dr. Cannon said.
Other recommendations included:
||Respecting patients' beliefs and incorporating neutral beneficial therapies into the treatment regimen
||Looking for ways to combine alternative remedies with medicine by encouraging treatment that promotes self-care
||Helping identify actions to promote the control of diabetes
Dr. Cannon also suggested using other institutions, such as churches, to educate the African-American community about diabetes. One such "culturally appropriate intervention" taught 40 African-American members of the Gospel Water Branch Baptist Church, Augusta, Ga., methods for losing weight and maintaining the weight loss.