It is important that trusted leaders within minority communities help craft and deliver healthcare messages in order for them to be effective, Buchanan says.
“Working through organizations that are known, loved and trusted effects how messages are received in the community. It’s important to note, that not everyone can reach people. The messenger means quite a lot more than the message at times,” says Buchanan, who helps healthcare organizations connect with African American organizations through authentic messages.
Buchanan says that establishing trust in the African American community is essential in increasing engagement. A 2010 report by the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests that African American men have a higher mistrust of the healthcare system than white men, and this can lead to delays in preventive health services.
"Many times people on the ground in these underserved communities are not engaged in the planning and program development of healthcare initiatives. Often there is no funding made available to community organizations to implement these initiatives. And they aren't comprehensive, meaning they don't serve interest of the community in ways that have been defined by community leaders,” Buchanan says. “What we do is have very forthright and transparent conversations with health organizations about the history of marginalization in African American communities. This makes the message from the health plan better received because we have the relationships from known, liked and trusted members of the community.”
Reyer agrees that many immigrants may distrust the U.S. healthcare process because it is very different from how healthcare operates in other countries.
“There’s a lot of suspicion, and it’s justifiable. In the U.S., we think ours is the dominant insurance model, but in other countries healthcare is so different. A lot of learning has to happen,” Reyer says.