The Need for Multilingual Community Engagement Tactics

Community outreach and engagement takes on the responsibility of engaging and communicating to a vast group of people in a defined area. Community outreach has the power to save lives. However, community does not indicate homogeny. Community diversity can create unique communication challenges as a result of different backgrounds, experiences, languages, and belief systems. Because of these influences, healthcare outreach coordinators must be actively aware of the diversity in their community and intentional about their approach to outreach and linkage to care.

Hispanic Populations in The United States

Hispanic communities make up the largest and fastest growing minority group accounting for 18.7% of the U.S. population, roughly 61 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. California, Texas, New York and Florida have the largest population of Hispanics with Illinois, New Jersey, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Massachusetts following closely behind. However, certain cities with “hotspots” or a condensed concentration of Hispanics are a perfect example of the importance of Spanish language outreach. Miami-Dade County in Florida, is a prime example with nearly 70% of the population identifying as Hispanic. 

The United States has the second highest concentration of Spanish speakers in the world, after Mexico, with about half speaking or understanding English “very well’, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, Office of Minority Health, 29.8% of Hispanics state they are not fluent in English and 72% of hispanics speak a language other than English at home. With a high percentage of non-English or ESL speakers across the country, it is imperative that the healthcare industry prioritize innovative Spanish language outreach strategies that can inspire action. 

What is the difference between Hispanic and Latinx?

While there are more lengthy and complicated ways of explaining the difference, we'll cut to the chase. The easiest way to explain the difference between Latinx and Hispanic is, as Ortiz Pérez has detailed: "Latinx is an ethnic and cultural category, where as Hispanic is a linguistic division. Brazilians are Latinxs but they are not Hispanic. Spaniards are not Latinxs but they are Hispanic.

Prominent Health Concerns in Hispanic Populations 

The Hispanic community is disproportionately affected by health problems due to lack of health insurance as well as language and cultural barriers that inhibit linkage to care. Prominent health concerns within Hispanic communities include heart disease and cancer as well as less discussed health concerns such as depression, HIV/AIDS and STDs. According to the CDC in 2017, Hispanics accounted for 26% of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S.. Hispanic communities also experience higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) more than some other races/ethnicities. High rates correlate to the lack of healthcare access, financial status, and also basic health education and information.

Enculturation & Understanding Barriers to Healthcare in Hispanic Populations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, Office of Minority Health, reports that Hispanic health is shaped by language and cultural barriers. Enculturation is often seen as a barrier to healthcare engagement. Enculturation is seen in all immigrant populations and is the process of learning our own culture. Enculturation is the process by which people learn the dynamics of their family heritage and acquire values and norms appropriate or necessary to that culture and its worldviews. Through this natural process of enculturation, we understand why generations of Hispanics in the U.S. remain strongly influenced by the traditions of their ancestors and why that tradition continues to impact the way healthcare and health stigmas are perceived and managed. According to the CDC, approximately 90% of Hispanics are Christian. Hispanics have strong family values and deeply ingrained family solidarity that impact daily decision making. Through Hispanic acculturation and religious views, this population is also less likely to talk about sensitive or taboo topics like sexual health and wellness. 

Having outreach materials to engage a community is important but creating culturally sensitive campaigns that are relatable and comprehensible is even more important. 

HealthMerch Community Engagement Solutions

At HealthMerch, we work with our clients to better understand the unique and relevant communication challenges that they encounter in their own diverse communities. Our creative team constructs designs and messaging that takes community engagement to the next level. Through careful research and community input, our turnkey designs and campaigns have proven success in the field working with Hispanic, LGBTQ+, adolescent, and more.

Pre-designed cause-focused campaigns are eye-catching designs in both English and Spanish that have been created as a result of client feedback and research. As we continue to create and grow as a company, we’ll continue to identify underserved populations and best practices on how to optimize outreach efforts for positive health outcomes. We welcome all feedback and you can submit your ideas directly to our marketing team by emailing kim@healthmerch.com