Uw Medicine | EthnoMED NewsLetter

UPDATE: December 2012


This is the second edition of the EthnoMed newsletter. Click here to view the inaugural edition.

A message from Medical Director, J. Carey Jackson, MD, MA, MPH:

Winter Weather Risks, Flu Vaccine and LEP Patients

Winter can be a particularly challenging time for immigrants from warm climates who settle in cold climates in the U.S. Storms causing power outages can lead people to bring generators and/or barbeques into their homes for heat and food preparation, putting them at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. During a 2006 wind storm in the Seattle area, there were several deaths and more than 100 people – many of them immigrants – were treated at hospitals for carbon monoxide poisoning. More recently after Hurricane Sandy, several deaths occurred due to carbon monoxide poisoning in communities on the East Coast. I encourage you to discuss these risks with your patients and to find ways to spread the word in your community about these risks. Public Health – Seattle & King County provides translated information on disaster preparedness including fact sheets and flyers in 24 languages about prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning, prevention and treatment of hypothermia, safe clean up after floods, and more.


With winter – regardless of climate – comes the flu. I’ve had many immigrant patients who have had misunderstandings about the flu vaccine. This issue can be multi-faceted because of language barriers and cultural or religious issues. One of the most common reasons for not receiving vaccination is underestimating the severity of the flu. One approach I've used with individuals from sub-Sharan Africa is to liken the flu to a bout of malaria -- with fevers, shaking chills, headaches, photophobia, nausea, myalgias, arthralgias and vomiting. Likening flu to an episode like this rather than a cold may get more people’s attention.  For more information on this topic and resources for translated patient education materials, see EthnoMed's article Flu Vaccine and LEP Patients.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy season!


Developmental Screening with Recent Immigrant and Refugee Children: A Preliminary Report

The inclusion of standardized developmental and behavioral screening is now recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at specific ages as part of well-child care. Early identification and intervention is considered an important factor influencing long-term outcome in children with developmental delay. Children from ethnic minority backgrounds have been found to receive diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) later than white children, and there is strong concern that this delay in diagnosis may be even more substantial in recent immigrant children or those whose parents have lower English-language proficiency regardless of ethnicity.  To explore factors that may impact diagnosis of developmental delays in these children, interviews were conducted at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with six bilingual/bicultural caseworker/cultural mediators (CCMs) who serve patients and their families with limited English proficiency (LEP). Summary information from these interviews about attitudes and beliefs around developmental screening and disability is presented in a brief article on EthnoMed, with a link to a fuller report containing quotes from CCMs and considerations about barriers to and suggestions for screening patients.


Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack in Women

Heart ImageAvailable in 10 languages, this 1-page PDF poster with pictures and simple text describes the signs and symptoms of heart attack in women. Translations were produced by Franciscan Health System and The Hope Heart Institute and are based on an English version produced by the Office on Women's Health.



Advent (Ethiopian Orthodox): November 24 - January 6, 2012

During Advent (Sibket, in Amharic language) a fast is kept, the Christmas fast of 40 days. Advent is a time for spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Fasting during Sibket can include skipping breakfast and not eating anything until 12:00 noon or 3:00PM, and eating only vegan foods when meals are consumed.

Webinar: Clinical Conundrums in LTBI Treatments: December 18, 2012

The Curry International Tuberculosis Center is hosting a national webinar which will cover some of the issues around LTBI treatment that may not be addressed in national guidelines. The webinar will attempt to answer questions around some of the more confusing issues related to LTBI treatment. The course is for MDs, nurses, communicable disease investigators, and other licensed medical care providers who work with patients at risk for TB infection. The course is free and is approved for 2 continuing education hours.

Cross-Cultural Health Care Conference: Collaborative & Multidisciplinary Interventions: February 8-9, 2013

This conference in Honolulu, O`ahu, Hawai‛i will provide a forum for the development, dissemination, and implementation of tools to aid both healthcare practitioners and researchers who work with diverse populations.  



The following are some of the topics/content currently under development at EthnoMed:

  • How expectations and patterns of pharmacy use abroad affect immigrant experiences in American medicine

  • Working well in the pediatric setting with Somali adolescents and their families

  • Narrated introductory slideshows in 7 languages about biopsy, chemotherapy, mastectomy and prostate cancer

  • Narrated slideshow guides for Somali and Vietnamese patients about foods that affect blood sugar

EthnoMed welcomes input and review of the content we create. If you have experience related to any of the above topics and might have interest in being interviewed or reviewing drafts, please Contact Us. We look forward to sharing these materials with you in future newsletter editions.


EthnoMed was founded in 1994 and is a joint program of the University of Washington Health Sciences Library and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.  EthnoMed grew out of another hospital program, Community House Calls, which was successfully bridging cultural and language barriers during medical visits, through interpretation, cultural mediation and advocacy with immigrant patients, families and communities. The website was created to reflect and support that experience. In recent years, our content has expanded to reflect many new communities that have settled in the Seattle area.

EthnoMed aims to address disparities in care through enhancing understanding between the medical culture and the culture of the patient. The program is grounded in relationships established with local ethnic communities and the providers who care for them. Our contributors come from a wide range of disciplines and experiences and include nurses, physicians, nutritionists, psychologists, academic faculty, medical interpreters, librarians, community members, and students. Health care providers and community members review content for clinical accuracy and cultural relevance. 

We invite you to share your knowledge and educational materials with the EthnoMed audience. Consider being a content contributor, collaborator or reviewer. Contact Us.

We hope that every newsletter edition (approximately 6 a year) will lead you to something helpful to your work. Please help us spread the word by forwarding this newsletter to a colleague or two, using the button below. Thank you!

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