Diverse Populations in Louisiana

Even though Louisiana is a smaller state, it has an exceptionally diverse population. Before joining the Union in 1812, Louisiana was home to many ethnicities and continues to host a cultural patchwork like no other state. Such a strong, diverse culture creates unique challenges for healthcare facilities that aim to provide culturally competent healthcare. However, with an adequate education, providers can easily meet and exceed these needs.

Population Groups

Prior to becoming a state, Louisiana had been both a Spanish colony and a French colony. There was an influx of African slaves in the early 18th century, further diversifying the area.

You can see many influences of the past in the state today — 3.5 percent of the population still speaks Spanish at home and 3.4 percent speaks French. According to the 2010 census, 32 percent of Louisianans are African-American, 62 percent of the population are white or non-Hispanic and many natives consider themselves Cajun or Creole. Cajuns are descendants of the French who came to the region after the British drove them from their Canadian colony in the 18th century. They settled in southern Louisiana, where they absorbed the culture of the Spanish, Germans, Native Americans and African-Americans. Creole typically refers to white or mixed-race descendants of early French and Spanish settlers. Clearly, Louisiana’s unique ethnic mix makes providing culturally competent healthcare a significant challenge.

State of Health

Heart disease, along with hypertension and high cholesterol, are top health concerns for certain ethnic groups. In 2010, heart disease was the number one killer in Louisiana, accounting for 25 percent of all deaths. High rates of diabetes, smoking and obesity all contribute to poor general health there.

Asthma continues to be a significant health issue for the state of Louisiana — an estimated 28.8 percent of children and approximately 11 percent of all adults suffer from asthma. However, the greatest number of sufferers are people with lower incomes. Although the number of asthma sufferers is somewhat lower than the national average, the state still ranks 13th in asthma deaths, suggesting a continued lack of access to adequate healthcare as the primary concern.

Although the Affordable Care Act attempts to help Americans access insurance, the proportion of uninsured residents in Louisiana (16.6 percent) continues to exceed the national average of 13.4 percent. To meet the healthcare needs of its residents, the state of Louisiana operates a public hospital system. With at least one public hospital in each of the state’s regions, the majority of uninsured and underinsured have local access to healthcare.

Future Care

Providing culturally competent healthcare to Louisiana’s diverse population will continue to be a challenge. Nurses are at the forefront of all healthcare teams. However, to stay abreast of the needs of a growing, diverse population, nurses will need to seek continuing education, and an online RN to BSN program is a practical route. Such a program can equip nurses with the knowledge and understanding of the diverse communities they serve. They can gain an understanding of the impact of culture and economics on healthcare and learn how to assist their patients in making choices that promote good health.

By furthering their education, nurses can continue to serve diverse communities far into the future.

Learn more about the LSUA online RN to BSN program.


World Population Review: Louisiana Population 2017

Louisiana Life: How Louisiana Became a State

History.com: Louisiana

Encyclopedia Britannica: Cajun

Encyclopedia Britannica: Creole

Louisiana Department of Health: Health Findings of Major Diseases

American Heart Association: Louisiana State Fact Sheet

2010 Louisiana Health Report Card

The Times-Picayune: Census Shows Slight Drop in Uninsured Louisiana Residents, But Total Number Is Still High

Louisiana Rural Health Plan 2011-2015

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