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Culture barriers for Samoan heart patients

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/05/2017

Poor English, low health knowledge and cultural differences are barriers for Samoan patients at risk of heart disease, a Victoria University researcher says.

Tua Taueetia-Su'a has been looking at the knowledge and understanding of cardiovascular disease among Samoan people, who are a high-risk demographic group.

Her research involved interviewed 16 Samoan patients and seven practice nurses in the Wellington region.

An experienced practice nurse who graduated this week as PhD in public policy, Dr Taueetia-Su'a found that poor comprehension of English and low health literacy meant few took up strategies like exercise, a healthy diet and regular risk assessments.

"I found a lot of people would get a CVD risk assessment done, but not know why they were there or what the results meant," she said.

Samoan culture, which was centred on family and community rather than the individual, was also a factor.

"If the health system is to effectively motivate the patients to lower their CVD risk by eating healthy and exercising, it needs to involve the whole family," Dr Taueetia-Su'a said.

She said training more health professionals with a knowledge of the Samoan way of doing things would be a major step forward.

She recommended developing an easy and practical plan to deliver health education on CVD, and that simple language, diagrams and translated text should be used on written communications.

She also suggested that healthcare services should complete follow-up assessments to check that patients had adopted necessary lifestyle changes.

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