Health, Wellbeing, and Social Connectedness of Rural Hispanic Populations
Studies explored two rural Kansas communities with Hispanic populations that ranged from 30 percent to 51 percent. This research addresses a social capital literature that traditionally targeted a White majority population in the United States. Hispanic and other merging populations have not been primary survey respondents in most studies. The goal of these studies was to understand how growing, foreign-born populations in rural Kansas, as compared to Euro/Anglo populations, experienced different levels of health, well-being, and social connectedness. In addition, one of the studies addressed health needs of its widely diverse communities. Using mixed methods approaches, surveys were sent to selected households in English and Spanish, focus groups were conducted in four languages (English, Spanish, Burmese, and Somali), and online surveys were offered. The findings had some surprises in terms of health conditions, general needs, and social connectedness. The studies did not always reflect the mainstream opinions of how minority populations connect in their communities or how they fare in terms of health outcomes. Implications of the results will be discussed along with culturally appropriate recommendations for reaching these populations with Extension and other educational programs.