Health Promotion Among African Americans

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Health Promotion Among African Americans



African Americans constitute the second largest racial minority group estimated to be around 13.4% of the entire population. The paper strives to assess varied health promotion prospects associated with this ethnic group. This will be achieved by assessing their current health status, existing health disparities, barriers to health, relevant health promotion activities, and the influence of culture on the related issues.

Current Health Status

According to the CDC, African Americans’ mortality rate between 1999 and 2015 has reduced by 25%. However, they still face a higher mortality rate compared to White Americans. African Americans that are aged between 35 and 64 years have a 50% probability of being affected by high blood pressure compared to White Americans (CDC, 2017). In addition, individuals aged between 18 and 49 years have twice the risk of dying from heart diseases.

For African Americans, the leading causes of death include accidents, cancer, and heart diseases. Over the years, they have had the highest mortality rate when it comes to cancer compared to other ethnic groups. There has also been a trend where young individuals from this ethnic group are living with diseases that are more prevalent at older ages.

It is apparent that the health status of African Americans is influenced by ethnicity and race to a certain extent. This is because it tends to influence access to certain resources, and the inherent cultural practices that affect various health outcomes.

Health Disparities and Nutritional Challenges

African Americans experience significant disparities as an ethnic group. They experience disparities areas like preventive screenings, chronic conditions, mental health, and access to health care. These disparities are quite vivid when comparisons are being done with the White Americans. The health disparities associated with this ethnic group can be associated with inadequate economic resources, delays in accessing required treatment, cultural beliefs, low literacy levels and genetics among others (Amuta-Jimenez et al., 2019).

When it comes to nutrition, lack of exercise and poor eating habits have been prevalent among African Americans. This is something that increases the risk of developing hypertension, obesity, cancer, and diabetes. The trend of poor nutrition is now becoming a concern due to the detrimental effects that tend to accrue. Following this nutritional path is sometimes argued to be attributed to low-income earnings (Amuta-Jimenez et al., 2019). However, the same cannot be said when it comes to adopting a sedentary lifestyle since this is more of a choice than a situation where one finds themselves.

Barriers to Health

Socioeconomics, culture, socio-political, and education factors contribute to the barriers of health encountered by African Americans. According to a study headed by Kara Whitaker, it was concluded that African Americans showed lower health behavior scores when being compared to Whites. Socioeconomic factors more so income and education level came out as major reasons for this occurrence. The education level that an individual attains contributes significantly to the dietary knowledge that they possess. This plays a major role when making nutrition and health-related decisions (Amuta-Jimenez et al., 2019). Income on the other hand affects how people can afford healthy and nutritious food. Having knowledge of the positive nutritional decisions to make only becomes helpful if one can afford the relevant foods.

When it comes to culture, African Americans are prone to adopting sedentary lifestyles. Most of them are comfortable being big-bodied and this is why obesity is high among the ethnic group. Not engaging in sufficient exercise and adopting poor nutritional feeding habits is a recipe for poor health outcomes.

Health Promotion Activities

African Americans practice some health promotion activities with the objective of improving the general well being of the community. Among the ways that they achieve this is through the development of outreach programs. A good example is MOCHA (Men of Color Health Awareness).  This is a community-based initiative that has put forward several innovative outreach strategies that are different from those which are normally used by various stakeholders (Graham et al., 2018). MOCHA’s goals include motivating change towards behaviors that trigger chronic diseases, taking advantage of cultural beliefs that enhance the provision of care to the family, engaging individuals in self-management of wellness and disease through peer-led activities, reduce barriers to health care, and also reduce general poor health outcomes.

MOCHA recruits participants by appealing to them to join a movement that enhances broader social change, capitalizing on already established relationships that boost trust, tapping into existing networks, and encouraging past participants to become mentors. These approaches have made the outreach program successful and effective in its endeavors.

Health Promotion Prevention Approach

Enhancing primary prevention might prove to be an effective care plan for African Americans. The reasoning is driven by the way high mortality rates among the African Americans is influenced by factors like lack of proper education and unhealthy behavior. Instituting wellness promotion fair can provide an avenue to publicize health promotion information.

Health fairs would work effectively since they allow for the working within a given community hence being able to identify unique needs pertaining to health promotion coupled with the provision of preventive information and basic education (Noonan et al., 2016). Presentations and screenings provide great ways to deliver fundamental health information to large populations. This is something that can easily inspire the community in making informed and better health choices.

When preparing for a wellness fair, there are several issues that need to be addressed. There is a need to enlist qualified individuals so that they can provide reliable information and accurate screenings. They ought to be properly trained on the services that are being provided in order to build trust between the population and the workers. Healthy People 2020 has a goal of “attaining a higher quality of life that is free from preventable injury, disability, disease, and premature death.” It is a goal whose main objective is not focused on teaching but rather mentoring those individuals without appropriate tools to help make better choices regarding their health.

Cultural Considerations

When creating a care plan, there is a need to consider the cultural beliefs and practices associated with African Americans. There are some African Americans that tend to equate good health as a matter of success or luck. An illness that is deemed as being undesirable is easily equated to chance, bad luck, domestic turmoil, or fate(Graham et al., 2018). In such cases, people end up seeking a physician’s help as a last result after home remedy attempts fail.

A model of cultural competence that ought to be adopted with this ethnic group is viewing it as an ongoing process whereby the relevant health practitioner strives to effectively work within the patient’s cultural context. This is a model that requires practitioners to view themselves as becoming culturally competent and not being culturally competent since it will help boost inherent cultural knowledge, cultural awareness, cultural skill, and cultural desire.


African Americans tend to face a high mortality rate compared to White Americans. This is due to health disparities such as chronic conditions and preventive screenings. Cultural, socioeconomics, and educational factors create health barriers that result to lower health behavior scores. It is important to enhance primary health prevention for this ethnic group in the process of enhancing effective health promotion. This would be coupled with the creation of a care plan that puts cultural beliefs and practices into consideration for effectiveness to be attained.




Amuta-Jimenez, A. O., Jacobs, W., & Smith, G. (2019). Health Disparities and the Heterogeneity of Blacks/African Americans in the United States: Why Should We Care? Health Promotion Practice, 21(4), 492–495.

CDC. (2017, July 3). African American Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Graham, L. F., Scott, L., Lopeyok, E., Douglas, H., Gubrium, A., & Buchanan, D. (2018). Outreach Strategies to Recruit Low-Income African American Men to Participate in Health Promotion Programs and Research: Lessons From the Men of Color Health Awareness (MOCHA) Project. American Journal of Men’s Health, 12(5), 1307–1316.

Noonan, A. S., Velasco-Mondragon, H. E., & Wagner, F. A. (2016). Improving the health of African Americans in the USA: an overdue opportunity for social justice. Public Health Reviews, 37(1).