Health of Dominican Migrants: Review of the Literature and Lessons Learned from Research with Dominican Migrants Living in New York City

Monday, 18 November 2013: 3:55 PM

Constance Sobon Sensor, MSN, RN, CTN-A
Department of Nursing, Kean University, Union, NJ

Background/Introduction: Nurses’ limited knowledge of unique cultural health beliefs and practices may present barriers for migrant clients seeking professional healthcare (Aponte, 2009; Caballero, 2007; Carter, Pugh & Monterrosa, 1996; Zsemlik & Fennel, 2005; Zoucha, 1998).  The presenter’s experience providing healthcare in rural areas of the Dominican Republic revealed that the values, beliefs, and practices of Dominicans differ from those of nurses in the United States. Purpose: This presentation aims to raise awareness of the influence of Latino values, beliefs and practices on the healthcare encounter, and to discuss lessons learned from and challenges of doing qualitative research with Dominican migrants in the New York City area.  Methods: Integrated literature review and discussion of qualitative research using focus group interviews to discover Dominican health-related beliefs, practices, and experiences in their new neighborhood. Findings/Results: The prevalence of diabetes and related health issues in the rapidly growing Dominican population is higher in comparison to other Latino populations living in New York City. First generation Dominicans living in northern Manhattan have higher rates of diagnosed diabetes than Mexican Americans (13 vs. 10.4%, respectively); undiagnosed diabetes (3.4 vs. 3.0%); hypertension (30.8 vs. 19.1%); and obesity (58.2 vs. 34.4%) (Getaneh, Michelen & Findley, 2008). The research lessons learned include use of culturally appropriate interpreters, informed consent, and strategies to build trust and recruit participants for the study.  Consideration will be given to taboos, issues of respect, evil eye, protective amulets, machismo, gender roles, personalismo, and familismo with examples from case studies and research-based literature. Communication etiquette and planning appropriate interventions within the context of a Latino magico-religious belief system will be discussed.  Implications: To provide appropriate nursing care and culturally specific risk-reduction interventions to address health disparities such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity among Dominican migrants, nurses must understand health practices of migrant Dominicans.