Healthcare and Cultural Beliefs
United States is a multi ethnic and multicultural society. Different racial and ethnic groups in the country have different views and beliefs about healthcare, diseases and treatment. Healthcare providers must understand this diversity in cultures in order to make healthcare interventions, promotions and prevention activities work among all groups of the society. Lack of understanding of these cultures may lead to miscommunication about healthcare. This paper is going to discuss the effects of Hispanic cultural beliefs on healthcare provision.
The population of Hispanic Americans in the US was estimated at 48.4 million in 2009 (Infoplease, 2010). This has the meaning that the Hispanic forms the largest ethnic minority in the US. A huge proportion 64% is made up of the Mexican American. Certain diseases are prone among the Hispanic Americans and these include; diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease (Arizona State University, 2010).
Hispanics have various cultural beliefs that are different from ours (Anglo-Americans) and that may influence their views on healthcare. One of these cultural beliefs is their region. Majority of Hispanic Americans are Catholics and hold high respect for the Virgin Mary. Most of them would say a prayers to the holy mother when them or their loved one are ill. In addition their strong belief in Christianity and God make most of them believe that every illness is the will of good and therefore they fail to seek for medical interventions. These presents a health risk to the population as there are diseases that are highly contagious and will be disastrous if lefts unattended to. Health practitioners must understand and appreciate the Hispanics religious beliefs if they are to succeed in changing the Hispanics attitude towards modern medicine. Proper education need to be conducted and should be delivered on the perspective of the Hispanics religious culture.
Hispanics Americans also have cultural beliefs concerning treatment of some diseases that are different from ours. They still belief on traditional medicines, use of herbs, aromas and rituals to treat various body, soul and mind illness. This belief in folk medicine sometimes puts the health of this community at risk as there are some chronic conditions that can be treated using rituals and herbs. However, health practitioners should not dismiss and disrespects these beliefs but should appreciate them and try to incorporate them into the process of healthcare provision. Before administering any medicine, doctors should ask the Hispanic patients whether they are taking any home medicine so as to avoid lethal reactions when another type of medicine is administered.
Huge difference is also portrayed between interactions among the Hispanics and the interaction among the Anglo-Americans. While Anglo-Americans prefer large personal space and like to maintain formal interaction, interaction between Hispanics is usually close and based on trust, warmth and friendliness (Gutierrez, 1998). Very small personal distance exists in the interaction between Hispanics. Hispanic Americans hold the same expectations when it comes to healthcare services provision. They expect the healthcare providers to treat them with a lot respect, warmth and friendliness. They expect a personal relation between the healthcare provider and them without which a sense of distrust arises and the Hispanics will tend to stay away from the hospitals. Therefore, it is very imperative for healthcare providers to note this disparity in cultural practices in order to make healthcare service delivery to the Hispanic Americans effective.
Another cultural belief/ practice that is different from the Anglo-American culture has to do with time orientation. While Anglo-Americans are largely concerned with their past, present and future; the Hispanics are only concerned with the Present (Presentismo) (Gutierrez, 1998). This raises a problem in explaining the importance of preventing diseases to this group of Americans. Trying to convince the Hispanics to take vaccines while they are not sick at present becomes very difficult due to this difference in time orientation. Practitioners have to understand this diversity in order to address this issue on a knowledge point of view.
Gender roles also present another diversity that exists between Hispanic Americans and Anglo-Americans. Whereas women in Anglo-American cultures enjoy a lot of freedom to engage in any career that fellow men do, women in Hispanic cultures assume a traditional role of a house wife whose responsibility is to take care of the family and the house (Gutierrez, 1998). This has an implication when Hispanics men have to take directions and instructions from lady doctors at modern hospitals. This issue needs to be addressed by encouraging doctors to treat these patients with respect and humility to avoid having them develop a negative attitude towards modern healthcare services.
Arizona State University (2010). Latino Culture and Health. Retrieved on February 21, 2011, from http://www.public.asu.edu/~cbaldwi1/swborderlands/lch.htm
Gutierrez (1998). Latino Health Beliefs. Retrieved on February 21, 2011, from http://www.public.asu.edu/~squiroga/gutierre.HTM
Infoplease (2010). Hispanics Americans by the Numbers. Retrieved on February 21, 2011, from http://www.infoplease.com/spot/hhmcensus1.html
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