Understanding why Latinos tend to avoid going to see a doctor

I’ve been doing some reading about Hispanic culture, and I think I’m beginning to understand why Latinos might avoid seeing the doctor as much as possible. First, one must understand that Latinos generally place a much higher value on family than Americans do. For instance, after graduating high school, many Americans tend to move out and get their own apartment or else study at a school away from home. Perhaps they call their parents once a week–if that–to let them know how they’re doing. Hispanics, on the other hand, generally live with their  families up until they get married. And if they don’t live with their parents, they at least live with a sibling, cousin, or other close relative and speak with their family on a daily basis. So we begin to see how important intimate family relationships are, which brings me to my next point.

I believe Latinos rely on their own special remedies and other family’s advice about medical issues before considering to see the doctor. For instance, because intimate relationships with friends and families are so important to them, why would they want to go get advice from some stranger? They have much more confidence and feel much more comfortable with someone they know. There was a study done that showed that 81% of the Hispanic women interviewed would first seek advice about their child’s medical problem from other family members or friends than from a health care professional. Latinos believe very strongly in caring for their sick children themselves.

Another factor of why women in particular might not see the doctor is due to Machismo. In Hispanic culture, the male is generally the dominant figure in the family and the head of the household. He must be consulted in all important decisions and he has the final word. Thus, Hispanic women generally defer to their husbands regarding their own health. If their husband says to them it is not necessary to see a doctor they will not see the doctor. Also, all emotional issues are kept within the family and are well-guarded. So if a family member is in need of professional psychiatric help, they are not likely to get it. Hispanics tend to look down on anyone with social, mental or emotional disorders which explains their secretiveness when someone within their own family has one of those issues.

Understanding more of this aspect of Latino culture has made me realize that for my project it would be very useful to do a lot of interviews asking Latinos what finally drives them to see the doctor. However, it might also be very hard to get that information because it appears that Latinos only talk about health issues they experience or have experienced with their close friends and family. I suppose I could word my questions by asking not about the experiences in their personal lives that have led them to see a doctor but rather pose hypothetical questions in order to keep their personal health issues out of it.

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