About the Author:
Guest blogger Timika Chambers is a Holistic Health Coach, Certified Diabetes Educator, and has over 18 years of experience in the nursing profession. She has served in community and hospital settings, as well as academia. Timika helps her clients design a lifestyle that is full of energy and focus, by helping them to create and eat nutritious meals, to develop a consistent physical activity regime that works for them, and by helping them to achieve balance in critical areas of their lives. Timika offers one-on-one counseling, group coaching, and presentations and training on diabetes management to lay persons and healthcare professionals. She is currently completing online healthy living programs to help others around the globe to focus on health management instead of disease management. Visit her website to find out more about her services.
The epidemic of diabetes continues to affect the African American population. Out of the 30 million individuals who have diabetes, approximately 13 percent of the African American population has been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician. African Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than Caucasians. This number is expected to increase unless necessary lifestyle changes are made.
Just receiving a diagnosis of diabetes increases a person’s risk of diabetes-related complications. Over the past few years, data has shown that African Americans were more likely to be affected by diabetes-related complications, such as heart disease (3.5 times), renal disease (4.2 times ), and lower limb amputations (30 percent more) than other racial groups.
African Americans and access to healthcare
Health disparities such as limited education, income, and health insurance continue to be the reasons minorities receive a lesser quality of healthcare than other racial groups.
I reached out to a few organizations to see what programs were available for African American populations, and I found out that some of the free outreach programs no longer exist due to changes within the organization. One of the other agencies to which I reached out discontinued its outreach program due to a lack of resources. Both companies did know when future programs would be available to the African American population. Certified Diabetes Educators can help fill in the gap when community resources are limited.
What can you do to help now?
- Check to see if your community resource database is current. Do not just rely on what you see online. Call organizations to make sure you have up-to-date information such as program availability and cost.
- Make sure your clients have the preferred meter and blood glucose monitoring supplies for their health insurance. I had a client who was paying $14 a month for her blood glucose monitoring supplies until she contacted her mail order pharmacy. She now receives her supplies for free.
- Review your educational materials for relevance and simplicity. Do you have literature that is specific to the African American population? Many African Americans feel that they have to give up the foods they love to eat. Therefore, many African Americans struggle with creating food they love with a healthy twist. Dr. George Barnett, a Board-Certified and practicing physician for 37 years, commented that “individuals with diabetes need on-going education so that they can personalize their care. Different cultures have different dietary habits and require individualized education.”
- Get to know the people you serve. Start a focus committee and invite African American community leaders and laypersons to monthly meetings to discuss potential barriers and possible solutions. Many people take action when they feel like their voice matters.
Centers for Disease Control (2016). Table of Summary Health Statistics. Retrieved from https://ftp.cdc.gov/pub/Health_Statistics/NCHS/NHIS/SHS/2016_SHS_Table_A-4.pdf)
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2014, June 16). Reducing the disparities to improve the quality of care for racial and ethnic minorities. Retrieved from https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2014/06/reducing-disparities-to-improve-care-for-racial-and-ethnic-minorities.html)