and Race In the Epidemiology of Disease
culture and race can affect the health and mental health of individuals
quite different ways that are critical for health care policy
makers, planners, and providers of services to discern. To illustrate:
Most Japanese men and women, like many Asians, metabolize alcohol differently
from Whites or Blacks, a circumstance that is genetically based.
many Japanese, consumption of even a very small amount of alcohol causes
a visible phenomenon called facial flushing, a pronounced redness or
blush. This is a biological effect linked to race. However,
strong cultural norms encourage Japanese men to socialize
together, drinking heavily while ignoring the flushing effect. On the
other hand, Japanese cultural
norms which proscribe heavy drinking among women cause them to
report being embarrassed if flushing occurs and to refrain from drinking
In working with Japanese alcoholics or abusers, culturally aware treatment
providers will be cognizant of the interaction between culture and
of the Papago cultural group within the American Indian racial group
have an inherited propensity to Type 2 diabetes.
is exacerbated and expressed if a Papago’s diet is high in saturated
fats and she/he has a sedentary life style. Diet and life style are
culturally shaped; the inherited susceptibility to diabetes is not.
health care for members of this cultural group, culturally informed
policy makers and treatment providers would take into consideration
etiology of the disease within this population.
response to the finding that many black people metabolize medications
from white people, a medication, BiDil, has
been formulated for black people with heart failure. Culturally aware
care providers including pharmacists will understand that a black
need for this specific medication is based on biology. The development
and marketing of a drug for a specific racial group has not been
Please refer to the
following for more information about
BiDil: June 23, 2005 news release from the Food and Drug Administration
articles by Carmody & Anderson, 2007; and Temple & Stockbridge, 2007.