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Perceptions of discrimination among Mexican American families of seriously ill children

Perceptions of discrimination among Mexican American families of seriously ill children

Journal of Palliative Medicine 14(1): 71-76

This paper describes Mexican American family members' descriptions of perceived discrimination by pediatric health care providers (HCPs) and the families' reactions to the HCPs' discriminatory conduct. A retrospective, grounded theory design guided the overall study. Content analysis of interviews with 13 participants from 11 families who were recruited from two children's hospitals in Northern California resulted in numerous codes and revealed that participants perceived discrimination when they were treated differently from other, usually white, families. They believed they were treated differently because they were Mexican, because they were poor, because of language barriers, or because of their physical appearance. Participants reported feeling hurt, saddened, and confused regarding the differential treatment they received from HCPs who parents perceived "should care equally for all people." They struggled to understand and searched for explanations. Few spoke up about unfair treatment or complained about poor quality of care. Most assumed a quiet, passive position, according to their cultural norms of respecting authority figures by being submissive and not questioning them. Participants did not perceive all HCPs as discriminatory; their stories of discrimination derived from encounters with individual nurses or physicians. However, participants were greatly affected by the encounters, which continue to be painful memories. Despite increasing efforts to provide culturally competent palliative care, there is still need for improvement. Providing opportunities for changing HCPs' beliefs and behaviors is essential to developing cultural competence.

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Accession: 054918464

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 21194301

DOI: 10.1089/jpm.2010.0315

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