Dr Moon S. Chen Jr on the Attitudes Needed to Design Population Health Interventions

When developing interventions to improve population health, particularly among minority groups, research must take a culturally sensitive approach that is targeted to the specific needs of that population, according to Moon S. Chen Jr, PhD, MPH, professor of hematology and oncology at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and principal investigator of The National Center for Reducing Asian American Cancer Health Disparities. He also emphasized the importance of clinicians’ role in population health.
Transcript (slightly modified)
What are some important considerations in designing health interventions for minority populations?
The 2 parts are, first of all, the attitude. I believe our attitude determines our altitude, how far we can go and how high we can go. It’s the recognition that all racial/ethnic minorities are different, all populations are different, and the first attitude must be that of humility, of really trying to understand the cultural aspects, the behavioral aspects, the determinants of population health.
Secondly, it’s some sort of ascertainment: compiling and knowing the epidemiology, the risk factors, the rates, which cancers and risk factors are the most prominent and what can be done about it. Then, to the extent possible, to design interventions that are culturally competent, meaning with the population, not on the population. That might mean training bilingual, bicultural individuals who can reach out to the community.
I think that conducting this, sustaining that, is the way to go. We’ve been able to show that it has worked. It’s more effective than, shall we say, just a missile approach or whatever.
What role can clinicians play in improving population health?
I want to reinforce how important, and never to underestimate, the provider’s influence on healthcare of the patient. The provider is the major gateway, decision maker, and trusted individual to do this, and so that’s a tremendous responsibility and obligation to do. I feel really privileged whenever I can to just reflect the research and the patient community on how important the provider’s role is.
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