Factors That Contribute to the Educational Success of Haitian-American Women

The purpose of this study was to explore the factors that influence academic success among Haitian-American women. A survey research method was used in this study. A quantitative approach was taken when analyzing the data. For this study, 213 Haitian-American women with college degrees completed the Inventory of College Success for Haitian-American Women. One descriptive analysis was conducted and 10 hypotheses were tested by one-way ANOVA. This study examined 16 dependent variables and 10 independent variables with 10 hypotheses. The results indicated that Haitian-American women perceived self- motivation, financial assistance, accessibility to resources, self-perception, time management, spiritual life, family support, prior academic achievement, and affordability of college tuition to be the factors that contributed to their educational success. Knowledge of a second language was perceived as the factor that contributed the least to their educational success. The groups studied revealed more similarities in their responses on the factors than differences.

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The Social Context of Cervical Cancer Knowledge and Prevention Among Haitian Immigrant Women

Cervical cancer is the primary cause of cancer deaths among Haitian women; however, the social context of cervical cancer among Haitian immigrant women has not been systematically examined. The ways in which women assign meaning to this disease, understand its causality and situate it within the broader context of gynecological health are poorly understood. Further, Haitian immigrant women’s perceptions of disease risk, including knowledge and understanding about Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the primary etiologic factor in cervical cancer, have not been explored. Few studies have assessed health behaviors, including culturally mediated feminine hygiene practices, among Haitian immigrant women, which may negatively impact gynecological health.

This exploratory study examines these dimensions of gynecological health using ethnographic methods including participant observation, observation, informal and semistructured interviewing and surveys. Ethnographic data contextualize this disease in larger cultural and historical contexts. In addition, these data informed the construction of a 92-item survey, ensuring content validity of the personal questions women were asked about feminine hygiene practices and the agents they use. This survey, administered to 246 women in Little Haiti, Miami, represents an application of medical anthropology to epidemiologic research. Each survey respondent also was evaluated for cytology and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HPV, using a self-sampling medical device. Quantitative analysis of survey data indicates that prevalent STIs (Chlamydia) are significantly associated with feminine hygiene practices; however, HPV infection and cervical cancer are not associated with the practices. The practices are likely underreported in the survey sample. Qualitative analysis reveals that women’s constructions of gynecological health are inseparable from cultural beliefs that emphasize feminine hygiene. Beliefs guide behaviors, which include vaginal douching and intravaginal washing, using plant-based therapies, imported commercial products and chemical compounds. These practices serve the purpose of not only cleaning, but also drying and tightening the vaginal environment for increased sexual pleasure of male partners. Attempts to preserve relationships, and reduce the chance that partners will take mistresses, occur through maintaining intimate hygiene and, in some cases, by other ethnomedical means.

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