The Rise of Opioid Overdose Rates Among Latinos

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Opioid overdose deaths among Latinos are surging nationwide. While the overall death toll is still higher for whites, it’s increasing faster for Latinos and blacks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Latino fatalities increased 52.5 percent from 2014 to 2016, compared with 45.8 percent for whites alone. (Statisticians say Hispanic overdose counts are typically underestimated.) The most substantial hike was among blacks: 83.9 percent.

The data portray a changing face of the opioid epidemic.

“What we thought initially, that this was a problem among non-Hispanic whites, is not quite accurate,” said Robert Anderson, mortality statistics branch chief at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “If you go back into the data, you can see the increases over time in all of these groups, but we tended to focus on the non-Hispanic whites because the rates were so much higher.”

There’s little understanding about why overdose deaths are rising faster among blacks and Latinos than whites. Some physicians and outreach workers suspect the infiltration of fentanyl into cocaine is driving up fatalities among blacks.

The picture of what’s happening among Latinos has been murky, but interviews with nearly two dozen current and former drug users and their family members, addiction treatment providers and physicians reveal that language and cultural barriers, even fear of deportation, could limit the access of Latinos to lifesaving treatment.

Source: Chicago Sun Times

The Importance of Language Skills in Hospitals

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A recent article in The London Evening Standard revealed the impressive figures of London’s hospital spending on interpreters.  Some hospitals, like The London NHS Trust, spend up to £2.2 million on translators and interpreters per year.  In all, the total sum of spending in London hospitals reaches £15 billion.

If the amount of money invested in interpreters is so important, it is because hospitals must deal with people from different nationalities that do not understand or speak English very well.  Indeed, the UK’s capital city gathers a notable number of communities speaking a mixture of 140 different languages.

Immigrants may know how to speak English but vocabulary related to the medical field is very specific and lends itself to more miscommunication.  The difference between hospitals and other public institutions is that peoples’ lives are at stake, so misunderstandings can be particularly risky.

It is crucial therefore to pay attention to language in fostering a trustful and comprehensible relationship between medical staff and both patients and family members.  The choice of words used is highly important in order to avoid confusion and to calm and ease families’ minds.

As a result, interpreters are essential in providing real assistance to patients and families.  By speaking the patients’ native language, they can help to create a trustful and calmer atmosphere in the normally stressful situation of hospitalisation.  This is even more important when it comes to announcing bad news as the choice of words is essential in order to relay information without misunderstanding and offer the most effective support to the patient and/or family members.

Hospital administration is also an important factor as patients and families must fill in forms not only regarding social security but also regarding previous illnesses, allergies and medical issues.  Terms must be very specific and technical so immigrants and foreigners might have some difficulties understanding it all and may therefore struggle to complete the forms correctly or completely which can lead to confusion and even medical mistakes.

Developing a strong set of language skills through language training courses can help medical and hospital employees provide better care and support for international patients and improved management of families.  By speaking to their patients in their native language doctors can create a trust that will help them to more effectively deal with their health questions and problems.

Medical staff should not only have access to interpreters but also be able to speak some of the main languages that go through the hospitals in order to reassure the patient and handle the situation in a better way.  From a practical perspective, it can save time and money and also help to decrease the number of interpreters that hospitals pay for. Language training courses can help to make a difference in hospitals and save more lives.

Source: Communicaid

Latino Youth and Parent Separation

 While splitting young Latino children from their parents is devastating, the separation between parents and older children, including teens, also is incredibly harmful, says a  Purdue University  expert who studies mental health and resiliency in the children of Latino migrant farmworkers.  “Family is the cornerstone of resiliency for these children, and the parent attachment is critical to the well-being of these children,” says  Zoe E. Taylor , an assistant professor of  human development and family studies . “We forget that teens need their parents, as well, and worry about them. In these populations, teens are used to contributing to the family and the value of family has tremendous cultural significance. These teens may have additional burdens, making this an even more stressful situation, and at the same time, they are often a source of resilience for their younger siblings.”  Taylor says the children separated from their parents are likely already stressed from their experiences that brought them to the border. Children of Latino migrant workers have high levels of anxiety and depression, which can affect their growth, health and behavior, says Taylor, who studies migrant farmworker families in Indiana. The high levels of anxiety, especially in these younger children, can affect their sleep and appetites, contributing negative effects to their physical and cognitive growth during a critical developmental period. Depression is more common in adolescents and teens, and it can lead to similar health problems, poor academic performance and behavior problems.  Taylor is  studying  resiliency to learn more about how kids end up doing well despite having adverse circumstances that set them up to do poorly. The project has included interviews of 80 children, ages 6-18, from migrant farm families. The children, most of whom were born in the United States, relocated to Indiana for the corn harvest, and they move around regularly. The younger children participated in a federally funded summer education program for youth of migrant farm families. The older children worked in the fields. This research project was funded by the  Spencer Foundation , and Taylor hopes to expand the study to follow the families over time.  “Having a supportive adult, even just one, buffers kids from the negative effects of whatever adversity they are experiencing.” Taylor says. “It’s devastating to see these young kids whose attachment relationships and source of resilience are being ripped away from them.”   Source:  Purdue

While splitting young Latino children from their parents is devastating, the separation between parents and older children, including teens, also is incredibly harmful, says a Purdue University expert who studies mental health and resiliency in the children of Latino migrant farmworkers.

“Family is the cornerstone of resiliency for these children, and the parent attachment is critical to the well-being of these children,” says Zoe E. Taylor, an assistant professor of human development and family studies. “We forget that teens need their parents, as well, and worry about them. In these populations, teens are used to contributing to the family and the value of family has tremendous cultural significance. These teens may have additional burdens, making this an even more stressful situation, and at the same time, they are often a source of resilience for their younger siblings.”

Taylor says the children separated from their parents are likely already stressed from their experiences that brought them to the border. Children of Latino migrant workers have high levels of anxiety and depression, which can affect their growth, health and behavior, says Taylor, who studies migrant farmworker families in Indiana. The high levels of anxiety, especially in these younger children, can affect their sleep and appetites, contributing negative effects to their physical and cognitive growth during a critical developmental period. Depression is more common in adolescents and teens, and it can lead to similar health problems, poor academic performance and behavior problems.

Taylor is studying resiliency to learn more about how kids end up doing well despite having adverse circumstances that set them up to do poorly. The project has included interviews of 80 children, ages 6-18, from migrant farm families. The children, most of whom were born in the United States, relocated to Indiana for the corn harvest, and they move around regularly. The younger children participated in a federally funded summer education program for youth of migrant farm families. The older children worked in the fields. This research project was funded by the Spencer Foundation, and Taylor hopes to expand the study to follow the families over time.

“Having a supportive adult, even just one, buffers kids from the negative effects of whatever adversity they are experiencing.” Taylor says. “It’s devastating to see these young kids whose attachment relationships and source of resilience are being ripped away from them.” 

Source: Purdue

The IELTS and Its Flaws to Prepare Doctors

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An article published in The Guardian by Ross Write describes some flaws in the International English Language Testing System when it comes to preparing overseas doctors for different dialects and colloquialisms, or a busy A&E. 

"The International English Language Testing System (Ielts) is used as a means of ensuring fitness to practice for all overseas doctors (...) but as I help prepare a group of overseas recruits as part of an NHS induction programme, I can’t help wondering to what extent the Ielts is actually fit for purpose. I listen while my trainees introduce themselves and I’m immediately struck by their grasp of the English language. Having scored the requisite Ielts score of 7.5, they all appear to possess the language skills necessary to function effectively in an English-speaking environment. However, as the course progresses, my doubts about the suitability of the Ielts as a means of benchmarking proficiency in any high-stress environment, least of all that of a UK hospital, are confirmed", states Wright.

Read Full Article HERE.

Source: The Gardian

The Prevalence of Alzheimer's Disease in Mexican-Americans

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Researchers at the UNT Health Science Center received a $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study why Mexican-Americans develop cognitive loss earlier than other groups.

"The Latino population, in general, appears to be at an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease," says neuropsychologist and researcher Dr. Sid O'Bryant, PhD. "We have found Mexican-Americans appear to develop memory loss average of about a decade younger."

What Dr. O'Bryant wants to know is why.

"We just got funded through the National Institutes of Health, one of the of the largest studies of Mexican-American brain aging in the history of the United States," he says.

What's happening here could be groundbreaking. The hope is that this research could change the way we both diagnose and treat Alzheimer's.

The plan is to study the blood, brains and behavior of 1,000 Mexican-Americans from North Texas and 1,000 non-Hispanic whites over the course of the next two decades. They'll look at how biology plays a role in the disease, and whether a simple blood test Dr. O'Bryant has created could help in disease prediction.

Study participants only have to check in once every two years. Having had his own grandmother succumb to Alzheimer's Disease, O'Bryant is devoted to changing the way we diagnose and treat the disease.

Source: WFAA