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Emigration and immigration -- Social aspects, Minorities -- Oregon -- Multnomah County


The Slavic community’s health is impacted by race and ethnicity, and also by issues that flow from being a newcomer community, and also from their status as refugees. They also bring to the U.S.A. cultural orientation that is collectivist, and shared experiences of persecution and deep distrust of the government. As is detailed in this report, these experiences have an impact on health and wellbeing, and simultaneously have a detrimental effect on the economic stature of the community.

This Community Needs Assessment on the Health of Slavic Children (ages 0-5 years) was conducted to produce a “needs assessment” report outlining specific health concerns, needs and indicators of health disparities within the Slavic community, best practices from other Slavic communities, and recommendations for next steps to address disparities in a culturally competent change in policy or practices. The community opted to conduct two major data gathering processes: a maternal and child survey, and focus groups with mothers. We supplemented this information with a literature review to highlight both the larger social and economic issues that are well-tied to health (such as income, poverty, school engagement and English language skills), alongside studies that have identified health assets and challenges in both Slavic and immigrant communities.

The core priority of the community are to establish a Slavic Health Center where providers will share their language, culture and history, and where health needs will be understood in their cultural context, and the distrust that typifies the relationships that many in the community have with formal health and social services will be eliminated. The need for this is strong, in evidence through the survey, the focus groups and in the literature. Specialized services are warranted to address the health issues tied to being newcomer communities, and in holding cultural identities and experiences that diverge significantly from that of mainstream (white) society.

Additional priorities include rectifying the deep divide that exists on the issue of immunizations, with this being the highest priority health issue for mothers with young children. Second on the priority list is for parents to be well prepared for their children to arrive at school, and to help make this transition easier on both parents and children. Third is to address a wide range of issues tied to health promotion, including learning and responding to issues of child neglect and the conditions that will promote family stability. Fourth is oral health, and the importance of being able to see Slavic oral health providers. Across the spectrum is a need for information on services available, as well as making such services available, and making them culturally responsive. Taking action on two levels is key for the community: putting empowerment-based information into the hands of Slavic families, and catalyzing among service providers enhanced abilities to serve the Slavic community in respectful and culturally dignified ways.

Health disparities faced by Slavic community members are inequitably measured, simply because their race/ethnicity is not separated out from “White” in the vast majority of research studies. Unfortunately, data cannot be separated by NWHF’s equity priorities like ethnicity overall, and cultural or linguistic background in particular. Culturally and linguistically specific services targeting this community’s needs are less likely than other disadvantaged communities of color such as African American and Native American, particularly due to inadequate gathering of data beyond the traditional racial and ethnic breakdown. Geography impacts this community’s health simply because of poverty-driven gentrification and the likelihood of Slavic families living in low-income diverse neighborhoods with greater risks of health disparities such as high obesity prevalence and chronic disease. Low-income neighborhoods where some of these families reside are less likely to have culturally and linguistically specific services targeting healthy choices and behaviors.

Persistent Identifier