Tag Archives: primary care

Immunization and Infectious Disease Mitigation

Cultural Models of Immunization and Infectious Disease Mitigation

The members of some communities, such as Puerto Rico, do not understand the scope and severity of some infectious diseases until they become infected (Pérez-Guerra, Zielinski-Gutierrez, Vargas-Torres, & Clark, 2009). The lack of a basic understanding of illness and infection poses a roadblock to mitigating disease transmission within the community. For Pérez-Guerra et al., the perception of severity and mitigation is important as they investigate the difference in attitudes towards dengue infections because dengue cannot be controlled by vaccine and must be mitigated by community participation in mosquito abatement activities. Other infectious diseases, however, can be controlled by vaccine, but efforts to limit infection are met with ignorance or misconceptions (Lau, Griffiths, Choi, & Tsui, 2010; Leask, Sheikh-Mohammed, MacIntyre, Leask, & Wood, 2006).

Public health officials, in concert with community leaders, should seek to educate affected communities about the infectious diseases they face along with effective mitigation strategies and the importance of vaccination, if available. Coreil (2010) describes the importance of cultural models in “[gaining] a deeper understanding of the cultural context of behavior” (p. 83). If behaviors are not understood, then it will be difficult to redirect them. Reaching out to community leaders has the added effect of allowing the leaders to alter the message just enough so that it might be effectively communicated to the community.

Providing a cultural health model allows for a larger scope of audience while effectively tailoring the message so that most of the target audience will appreciate the nature of the message. Approaching health behaviors from a cultural stand-point also offers the advantage of allowing peer support to propagate messages through out the community. This might be especially true when dealing with a multitude of subcultures where the message might better be disseminated via interpersonal means. Eventually, the message will be received by many individuals who will begin to have discussions with others in the community. For communities where individuals are not likely to speak to each other regarding personal health-related matters, the cultural health model allows a general message to reach each individual.


Coreil, J. (Ed.). (2010). Social and behavioral foundations of public health (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Lau, J. T. F., Griffiths, S., Choi, K. C., & Tsui, H. Y. (2010). Avoidance behaviors and negative psychological responses in the general population in the initial stage of the H1N1 pandemic in Hong Kong. BMC Infectious Diseases, 10(139), 1-13. doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-139

Leask, J., Sheikh-Mohammed, M., MacIntyre, C. R., Leask, A., & Wood, N. J. (2006). Community perceptions about infectious disease risk posed by new arrivals: A qualitative study. The Medical Journal of Australia, 185(11/12), 591-593. Retrieved from http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/185_11_041206/lea10999_fm.pdf

Pérez-Guerra, C. L., Zielinski-Gutierrez, E., Vargas-Torres, D., & Clark, G. G. (2009). Community beliefs and practices about dengue in Puerto Rico. Pan American Journal of Public Health, 25(3), 218-226. doi:10.1590/S1020-49892009000300005

Living Longer and Happier Lives

As we age, we tend to question our mortality and how much longer we have left to live. Not that we can do much about this in order to extend our lives by this time, but if we question our health earlier, we may be able to affect positive change in order to have a longer and more productive quality of life. Dan Buettner (National Public Radio [NPR], 2008; TED, 2009) discusses how difficult it can be to control the effects of aging, but he also offers some options based on his observations of what are termed blue zones. Blue zones are geographic and cultural areas of the where people tend to live longer and healthier lives.

Buettner (NPR, 2008; TED, 2009) describes simple measures that can contribute to increasing a productive life. More importantly, he has uncovered what they do not do. The people who live in these blue zones, according to Buettner, do not tend to take daily supplements, pills, or extracts. Instead, continuous and simple movement for exercise coupled with a sensible cultural diet seems to have the biggest impact.

One of the observations that I have made over the years is that as physical movement declines, physical and emotional strength wane. For example, an otherwise healthy 70 year old woman who accidentally falls and breaks her hip decreases her life expectancy drastically unless physical rehabilitation is utilized to regain her activity level (Keene, Parker, & Pryor, 1993; Lyons, 1997). It is vitally important to maintain a healthy level of activity throughout life.

Diet is very important. Buettner (NPR, 2008; TED, 2009) credits adding nuts to the diet for an average increase of three years of life. The way in which our bodies use energy is very important, and we must supply it with a fuel that is efficient. A wholesome diet, I believe, is the best diet, especially if divided by five or more meals a day.

We cannot have a conversation about improving overall health without addressing some of the unhealthy vices that we tend to indulge in. Instead of outlining each and every thing that is detrimental to our health, I will say that moderation should be the way to combat the effects of vices. We need to enjoy life, and I feel that the mere enjoyment leads to a longer and healthier life; therefore, to strictly limit indulgences would seem to be counter-productive. Moderation should certainly be the way in which to address these issues.

We all want to live longer and healthier lives, but genetics does play a role. There are some aspects of our lifestyle that we are finding that we can change for the better, and the alternatives are not that bad. So long as we live healthy lives, we can enjoy life more completely.


Keene, G. S., Parker, M. J., & Pryor, G. A. (1993). Mortality and morbidity after hip fractures. British Medical Journal, 307, 1248-1250. doi:10.1136/bmj.307.6914.1248

Lyons, A. R. (1997). Clinical outcomes and treatment of hip fractures. American Journal of Medicine, 103(2), S51-S64. doi:10.1016/S0002-9343(97)90027-9

National Public Radio (Producer). (2008, June 8). Can ‘blue zones’ help turn back the biological clock? [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91285403&from=mobile

TED (Producer). (2009, September). Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+ [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100.html

Relationships Among Health Services Organizations

 As a critical care paramedic, I am fortunate enough to experience our health care system as an active participant, caring for the sick and injured, and as a passive observer, following the pathways of the patients whom I have treated. The health care system in the United States is, admittedly, fractured (Kovner & Knickman, 2008), but there are components that serve to create harmony and efficiency within this system, and I will describe just a few of them.

The primary care physician is meant to be the coordinator of all care for his or her patients. The importance of this role cannot be overstated, as it is the keystone to “health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance, counseling, patient education, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses” (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2010, para. 7). When appropriately utilized, the primary care physician can coordinate a patient’s care to ensure efficiency and efficacy of treatment while ensuring safe and comprehensive care (Kovner et al., 2008).

There is a growing number of specialties and sub-specialties within the practice of medicine today (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010b). Specialists focus on their chosen area of practice and are an asset to the general practitioner, or primary care physician, who can concentrate on the coordination of the patient’s care. The inclusion of specialists in medicine is an efficient and effective means of offering the patient a level of expertise not otherwise available. One of these specialties is emergency medicine.

Emergency departments are necessary entry points into the health care system for victims of acute trauma and illness, but often times, the emergency department is used as the primary portal for those who lack insurance or other means of accessing health care appropriately (Committee on the Future of Emergency Care, 2006; Kovner et al., 2008). These patients tend to utilize the emergency room for even minor ailments, distressing this important component of the system, causing a “nationwide epidemic of [emergency department] overcrowding, boarding, and ambulance diversion” (Committee on the Future of Emergency Care, 2006, p. 19).

Laboratories and radiology departments are great assets to providers, allowing technicians to perform tests at the behest of the physicians and only requiring the physician to interpret the results of the tests. This seems to be a cost-effective and efficient component of the system, so long as the tests are performed timely and accurately.

Pharmacists have been regarded as patient-focused consultants who can provide both patient-specific and general information regarding over-the-counter medications as well as prescription medications. In our health care system, pharmacists have a valuable role of safeguarding patients from over-medication, as well as under-medication, medication compatibility, and also educating patients to the possible side-effects of their prescribed medicines (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010a).

In conclusion, the safest and most efficient use of our health care system begins at primary care. Though, in emergency situations, there is certainly a need to seek immediate care by other means, patients can suffer financial challenges as well as safety issues by trying to remove the primary care physician from the health care paradigm. Not only is this unsafe for the patient seeking primary care elsewhere, but misuse of emergency departments cause unnecessary delays for truly emergent patients. The health care system in the United States is vast and can be confusing. The primary care physician can provide a safe and efficient pathway of care that will save a patient time, money, and, possibly, his or her life.


American Academy of Family Physicians. (2010). AAFP policy on primary care. Retrieved May 1, 2010, from http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/policy/policies/p/primarycare.html

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor. (2010a). Pharmacists. Occupational outlook handbook (2010-11 ed.). Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos079.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor. (2010b). Physicians and surgeons. Occupational outlook handbook (2010-11 ed.). Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ ocos074.htm

Committee on the Future of Emergency Care in the United States Health System. (2006). Hospital-based emergency care : At the breaking point. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Kovner, A. R., & Knickman, J. R. (Eds.). (2008). Jonas & Kovner’s health care delivery in the United States (9th ed.). New York, NY: Springer.