The instructor should have a working knowledge of the differences in the risk of diseases related to different racial, ethnic, social, and gender groups (See Patterns of Health Risk) that make one type of preventive strategy more or less appropriate for specific populations.
A. Case Histories
Case histories abound in the ethnic literature on the special needs of specific populations. These cases can be used in lectures and as bases for discussion to provide vignettes of special needs and concerns.
This knowledge will give students a working background upon which to research their own “special” cases. Especially if the class is ethnically diverse, health-related stories about operations, diseases, doctors, and hospitals, can be shared as learning experiences, with emphasis on the cultural attitudes toward health care interventions.
Students should have access to family members of older patients with special health problems that they can explore further through interviews (See Interview Strategies). However, because health is often a sensitive issue with elders, especially if their health is not good, care needs to be used when assigning students to interview people about their health concerns. Often it is better to ask elders about their attitudes toward health (disease) rather than their experiences. Students can be asked to write the results of the interviews based on previously assigned topics or questions.
C. In-Class Discussions
In-class discussions about these interviews give students a sense of belonging because everyone has a story. On the other hand, every story is different, and that emphasizes the differences between individuals and populations. After the initial assignment is shared, students can be asked to compare and contrast the stories and experiences keeping ethnic backgrounds in mind.