Cultural Heritage Assessment in Relation to Health


Cultural heritage plays a critical role in determining a person’s health care needs and the process of receiving medical care. Despite being universally human, it is a cultural heritage (regarding race and ethnicity) that significantly differentiates patients from each other. It influences family history, genetic composition, perceptions of medicine, and health behaviors, amongst many distinguishing factors that are necessary to provide proper medical care. Health care providers and nurses, which directly work with patients, should maintain cultural awareness in order to deliver effective and competent care.

Hispanic Heritage

Hispanic culture strongly emphasizes religion, family, and tradition. It is common to use folk medicine, and religious beliefs play a significant role in the perception of illness. Hispanics believe in a supernatural and divine intervention which may impact health and internal balance. Many use prayers for healing. Character traits such as pride often prevent Hispanics from seeking medical help unless the situation is critical.

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Hispanics rely on their community to address population health issues. Language and literacy barriers serve as primary challenges to health promotion and education. Many Hispanics do not learn English upon immigration to the United States and are not provided with competent health education within community structures. A prominent level of poverty limits accesses to health care due to the lack of insurance or local facilities (Juckett, 2013).

Hispanics are significantly affected by adverse socio-economic conditions which impact their lifestyle and behaviors. Many lead a sedentary lifestyle with the unhealthy nutritional intake (due to cultural and financial reasons). This leads to increased incidence levels of obesity, cardiovascular conditions, cancer, which results in discouraging fatality rates (Velasco-Mondragon, Jimenez, Palladino-Davis, Davis, & Escamilla-Cejudo, 2016).

Cultural factors can be implemented directly into health maintenance through health promotion. The male-dominated, highly traditional aspect of the Hispanic society should be used to emphasize respect for the family structure and folk medicine. Most health needs of the Hispanic population are preventable through disease management and education that can be implemented through culturally-relevant and linguistically accessible targeted promotions.

Health protection for the population can be addressed by focusing on eliminating the environmental factors which affect the population. Reducing poverty and improving access to modern infrastructure and health care is helpful in the long-term protection of the quality of life and reduction of communicable diseases. The availability of public health services perpetuates health restoration. The highly religious Hispanic culture may present barriers to receiving appropriate critical care and should be carefully navigated to convince the population about the necessary medical services. Overall, the heritage assessment is exceptionally relevant in application to the Hispanic culture as it allows to identify beliefs and patterns of behavior which limit the population’s access and use of health services.

Jewish Heritage

Judaism as a religion is the core of the Jewish heritage. Religion supports the health of the mind and body, with medicine being a popular choice of profession amongst this population. However, religion plays a crucial role in receiving health care as many choose to consult with religious clergy before receiving treatment. Furthermore, religious traditions impact behaviors, such as dietary habits, sexual health, and the Sabbath, which may influence response to medical care.

More traditional Judaism followers have strong stigmas about modern medicine and physical examination. One of the critical health concerns for the Jewish population is nutrition, as the religion requires the consumption of strictly Kosher foods and periodic fasting. Jewish families are extraordinarily tight-knit and protective of each other (Holland, 2017).

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The family assessed has Jewish heritage and practices some Judaist traditions. It does not support ultra-Orthodox beliefs and leads a semi-secular lifestyle. It attempts to follow important holidays and traditions as well as practice the Kosher diet if possible.

This can be generalized to most individuals of the Jewish heritage that value their background but choose to lead a healthy modern lifestyle. However, the family seeks to follow many principles emphasized by the Jewish tradition, such as care for the body and support within the family structure. This can be used directly to emphasize health management. Physical health can be maintained through consistent healthy behavior and interventions such as regular screenings. The Jewish tradition fully supports the use of medicine to perpetuate the well-being of an individual.

Health protection can be emphasized within close family and community structures as everyone looks out for the well-being of others. Thus, there is a certain level of responsibility in maintaining infrastructure and quality control which can guarantee health protection. Finally, health restoration is fully compatible with the Jewish tradition if the necessary conditions which respect the religious choices of the families (such as the Kosher diet or decision to consult a rabbi) are met.

Chinese Heritage

Chinese-Americans are one of the rapidly growing populations in the United States. Cultural heritage plays a significant role in the population’s health care beliefs and behaviors. Although China has been a secular country for close to a century, many traditional elements remain embedded into the culture. The religious influence of Confucianism has a crucial role, emphasizing society and family as more important than individual well-being. Dedication to the family is immense in the Chinese heritage, as well as obedience to any type of authority. This may result in communication issues as a doctor is seen as an authority that cannot be disagreed with.

Many Chinese families believe in the use of traditional cultural remedies for treatment. Health is seen as a balance between the physical body, society, and spiritual environment. The body is seen as an interconnected mechanism. Traditional health practices such as herbal medicine and acupuncture can be beneficial but require further treatment of severe conditions (Tseng & Wu, 2013).

The family assessed was a modern Chinese-American family. It adheres to many values and traditions emphasized by the Chinese culture but believes in the importance of modern medicine. However, it still is a resource that is rarely used and remains inaccessible due to socio-economic reasons. Health management can be introduced by connecting it to the traditional concepts of family and well-being. The Western mindset often clashes with traditional Eastern beliefs.

However, if it is adapted to promote individual well-being as the strength of community and family social structures, it may be effective. Health protection can once again be emphasized from the perspective of social wellness that requires quality and infrastructure remaining at a high level, as well as ensuring access to health care services. Finally, health restoration should consider the traditional beliefs of the Chinese culture in order to assure proper treatment is given and the patient, as well as family, understand the ongoing process. Cultural awareness allows us to form connections and provide relevant recommendations.

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Conclusion

It is evident that cultural heritage has a profound impact on the lifestyle and behavior patterns of families. Using the cultural heritage assessment as a standard part of nursing practice can improve the delivery of care. Analyzing unique traits of individual cultures, including family structure and adherence to traditions, can be used to provide targeted health management, protection, and restoration interventions. Overall, it is a method for nurses to provide culturally competent healthcare, which is necessary to ensure the efficiency of public health initiatives and medical treatment.

References

Holland, K. (2017). Cultural awareness in nursing and health care. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Juckett, G. (2013). Caring for Latino patients. American Family Physician, 87(1), 48-54. Web.

Tseng, W., & Wu, D. (2013). Chinese culture and mental health. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.

Velasco-Mondragon, E., Jimenez, A., Palladino-Davis, A., Davis, D., & Escamilla-Cejudo, J. (2016). Hispanic health in the USA: A scoping review of the literature. Public Health Reviews, 37(31), 1-27. Web.

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