Sunday, February 17, 2013

(First Reader) Don't Judge a Health Problem by the Color of its Host's Skin

This week for our Readings we had to read Dressler et al (2005) article Race and Ethnicity in Public Research: Models to Explain Health Disparities and Viruell-Fuentes (2007) article Beyond Acculturation: Immigration, discrimination, and health research among Mexicans in the United States. Both of the articles were fascinating, but the one that struck me was the one by Dressler et al because it led me to a completely different way of thinking.

In the introduction of the piece, Dressler et al explain how “race and ethnicity are among the most commonly used variables in public health research,” (234) and I must admit that there are times when I look at disease in a racial sense. There was this idea that this was a “black problem” or an “Asian Problem” or even “A White Girl Problem. It was an unconscious thought, until I read this piece. I wasn’t trying to be mean or anything, but looking at research and listening to medical ads they always state different races as being prone to these issues.

Then I read the section “The Racial-Genetic Model.” Dressler et al explain how “racial and ethnic health disparities that emphasize genetic variants differentially distributed across these groups appears to have little explanation.” They show how different conditions such as birth weight and high blood pressure can vary within ethnicities that come from different environments, stating, “Kleinman and associates…found that the risk of neonatal mortality was 225 lower for foreign-born compared with U.S.-born black women” (235).

I found these results to be very interesting and I now feel like I need to re-examine the way that I consider disease across different races and ethnicities. Now I might be more willing to consider different factors such as the socioeconomic status model that Dressler et al presents. 

1 comment:

  1. This is my respondent post.
    Hi Hannah. Unlike you, I stood on the other side of the view that disease had to do with race. I thought every human was the same because we have all the same body parts, need the same types of things to live, and we are all the same species. I thought race was just the difference of how much melanin each person had in their skin. I thought wrong. Through reading the Dressler article, I realized how great of an impact race has to do with one’s health and disease. I forgot that in the general factor of race there were so many other factors that were encompassed within it. Even though it might not be true in all cases, the environment, food, genetics, etc. are all encompassed within race (even though the article did not really specify the definition of race, I will take it as ethnicity). In no way am I trying to be racist, but rather trying to look at the bigger scope of things. For example, the diets of the people of different races are different. The diets of Asian countries usually include rice, vegetables, and fish. While in America, although there is a diverse choice of what to eat, Americans are more prone to eat fast food or unhealthy food because of the amount of unhealthy restaurants around. Even just this difference in diet can have a huge impact on one’s health. Race may not just determine what you eat, but also what environment you are grown up in, what genetics you were born with, and even the type of health care that you receive. Although I agree with you that we shouldn’t only look at race when looking at disease, I think that race has a huge impact on it.