Cultural Health Capital and the Contraceptive Medical Encounter
Laurie James-Hawkins, University of Colorado at Boulder
Contraceptive medical encounters among low-income women present an ideal context for examining the influence of Cultural Health Capital (CHC; Shim, 2010) in medical interactions as part of the perpetuation of health disparities in the United States. Low-income women face significant problems in obtaining contraceptive care because they have less CHC and are therefore less likely to express their lifestyle constraints to their doctors. I present data from interviews with 40 low-income women in Colorado to demonstrate a cycle of stereotyping and assumptions by medical professionals and paternalistic decision-making and impaired trust relationships between doctor and low-income female patients. These issues are both exacerbated by low-income women’s lack of CHC and indicative of the importance of CHC in medical encounters. More attention must be paid to lack of CHC in contraceptive medical encounters to effectively reduce unplanned pregnancy in the United States.