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American Indians: Health Disparities Research Essay

1145 words - 5 pages

American Indians have had health disparities as result of unmet needs and historical traumatic experiences that have lasted over 500 hundred years.1(p99) Since first contact American Indians have been exposed to infectious disease and death2(p19), more importantly, a legacy of genocide, legislated forcible removal, reservation, termination, allotment, and assimilation3. This catastrophic history had led to generational historical traumas and contributes to the worst health in the United States.2 American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) represent 0.9 percent of the United States population4(p3) or 1.9 million AI/AN of 566 federally recognized tribes/nations.5 American Indians/Alaska Natives have significantly higher mortality rates of intentional and unintentional injuries, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease and chronic lower respiratory disease than other American.6
Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2 diabetes/adult onset diabetes) is an epidemic in American Indian and Alaska Natives communities.7 AI/AN have the highest morbidity and mortality rates in the United States.7 American Indian/Alaska Native adults are 2.3 more times likely to be diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus than non-Hispanic Whites.7 More importantly, AI/AN adolescent ages 10-14 are 9 times likely to be diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus than non-Hispanic Whites.7 Type 2 diabetes is high blood glucose levels due to lack of insulin and/or inability to use it efficiently.8 Type 2 diabetes usually affects older adults; 8 however, the incident rate is rising quicker amongst AI/AN youth than non-Hispanic Whites.7 This is foreshadowing of earlier serious complications that will be effecting the AI/AN communities. Fortunately with a lifestyle change it can be preventable and/or managed.
Injuries (intentional and unintentional) are the leading cause of death for ages 1-44 years old in AI/AN communities9 and overall is the third leading cause of death.10 American Indians/Alaska Natives have the highest rate of suicide than any other American at 14. 3 per 100,000.11 Suicide rate for AI/AN communities continues to increase12 and is an indicator of a depression, a serious mental health issue plaguing AI/AN communities. An unintentional injury such as motor vehicle crashes, drowning, and fires are safety issues for American Indian/Alaskan Natives communities. American Indians adults are twice as likely to die from a motor vehicle crash as White and African Americans.10 Moreover, 76 percent of car passengers who were unrestrained died in motor vehicle crashes.10 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s analysis of seat belt usage on reservation is 55.4 percent; more importantly, seat belt usage ranges from 8.8 percent to 84.8 depending on the reservation.10 Sadly, alcohol-related crashes on reservation were 65 percent of the vehicle crashes compared to nationally rate of 47 percent of total crashes related to alcohol. Indian...

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