Public Health Preparedness of Health Providers: Meeting the Needs of Diverse, Rural Communities
Hsu, Chiehwen Ed
Soto Mas, Francisco
Harris, Ann Marie
Chiehwen Ed Hsu, PhD; Francisco Soto Mas, MD, PhD, MPH; Holly E. Jacobson, PhD; Ann Marie Harris; Victoria I. Hunt, MPH; and Ella T. Nkhoma, MPH. "Public Health Preparedness of Health Providers: Meeting the Needs of Diverse, Rural Communities" Journal of the National Medical Association, Vol, 98, No. 11, November 2006.
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Meeting the needs of public health emergency and response presents a unique challenge for health practitioners with primary responsibilities for rural communities that are often very diverse. The present study assessed the language capabilities, confidence and training needs of Texas rural physicians in responding to public health emergencies. In the first half of year 2004, a cross-sectional, semistructured survey questionnaire was administered in northern, rural Texas. The study population consisted of 841 practicing or retired physicians in the targeted area. One-hundred-sixty-six physicians (30%) responded to the survey. The responses were geographically referenced in maps. Respondents reported seeing patients with diverse cultural backgrounds. They communicated in 16 different languages other than English in clinical practice or at home, with 40% speaking Spanish at work. Most were not confident in the diagnosis or treatment of public health emergency cases. Geographic information systems were found useful in identifying those jurisdictions with expressed training and cultural needs. Additional efforts should be extended to involve African-American/Hispanic physicians in preparedness plans for providing culturally and linguistically appropriate care in emergencies.
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