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  • Note from the Editor
  • Virginia M. Brennan, PhD, MA , JHCPU

Two entities loom large in our second issue of 2014: (1) populations whose primary language is not English (especially Spanish- speaking populations in North and Central America and the Caribbean, but also speakers of Asian languages and residents of Senegal and Niger); and (2) health care settings—ranging from hospitals to community health centers to private primary care practices to free clinics to shelters to the street itself.

Theme 1: Linguistically- Identified Populations and Health

Within counties and across countries, languages represent culture in the most deep-seated way possible. Languages serve as markers of cultural identity and, viewed more closely, yield rich information about cultures. Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and languages spoken in the predominantly Muslim West African nations of Senegal (Wolof, Fula, Serer, French, and others) and Niger (Hausa, Zarma, Fulani, Tuareg, French, and others) all come into the stories told in the articles in this issue, especially Spanish. The authors of the ACU Column, which concerns barriers to contraceptive care faced by low- income and otherwise marginalized women, remind readers of Sankofa—the West African (Akan) symbol representing the importance of examining the lessons of our past in order to reach the full potential of our future. I hope the articles gathered together here contribute to such examinations.

Fundamental to good health care is good communication among patients, staff, and caregivers. Baig and colleagues report from Chicago on a study of the Spanish language ability and cultural awareness of community health center staff and providers working with large numbers of Latino patients with diabetes, and identify specific areas for improvement. Berkowitz and colleagues assessed the status of Latino patients in the Diabetes Study of Northern California, reporting that low income and low educational attainment are important risk factors for hypoglycemia. In a Report from the Field, Sanchez and colleagues from Texas describe the outcome of an Office of Minority Health meeting on eliminating health disparities through culturally and linguistically integrated care, concluding with the identification of key strategies to achieving this end. Connections between the quality of patient- provider communication among Puerto Ricans, socio- demographic variables, and health status occupy William Calo and colleagues in their Brief Communication. Maranda and colleagues at a community health center in New York City conducted an intervention designed to enhance patient activation and report on signs of its effectiveness among Spanish- speaking patients.

It has previously been found that, in the United States, metropolitan areas with laws prohibiting over- the- counter (OTC) sales of syringes have a higher mean HIV prevalence than other metropolitan areas. Pollini and colleagues examine OTC syringe sales in Tijuana, Mexico, where such sales are legal, by means of a survey of over 200 pharmacies. [End Page ix] They report that, despite the legality of the practice, a large majority (74%) of respondents reported that their pharmacy required a prescription for a syringe purchase.

Religion and church teachings positively influence the cancer screening practices of Catholic Latinos in Massachusetts, according to Allen and colleagues from Dana-Farber, Harvard, and Boston College. Participants in the eight focus groups they conducted emphasized that their parish leaders strongly encouraged cancer screening, expressed willingness to participate in health education programs in their parishes, and provided practical recommendations for implementing such health programs.

Forty women living in Guatemala participated in a qualitative study of cervical cancer and HPV knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Petrocy and Katz, who conducted the study, report that while knowledge was low, openness to receiving the vaccine and in getting it for daughters is high. Nguyen and Belgrave report on the interaction of ethnic identification and the effectiveness of a breast and cervical cancer screening intervention among Vietnamese women living in the United States, reporting that higher ethnic identification was associated with less effectiveness. Lee, Choi, and Jung, using the California Health Interview Survey, studied access to health care among three Asian sub- groups (Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean). While they find that poverty and insurance status commonly impede access to care, there are differences worth noting among the subgroups. First, Koreans had by far the worst access to a regular source of care (45.2%), relative to both...


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