Healthcare providers are always in contact with people from different religion affiliations. This is mainly because the society is made up of people who practice different types of religion. Medical care providers should be aware of the differences of those religions. It is important to for such people to understand the various beliefs so that they are able to offer the required health care without violating the patient’s religious principles. This paper will investigate the religious beliefs with respect to health care provision of three different religious faiths.
Diverse religions have specific ways and doctrines on how to take care of the sick and injured. It is necessary to note that Christianity is a predominant religion in the United States. However, the US society is one of the most diverse and US health care professionals have to be aware of peculiarities different ethnic groups may have. It is essential to take into account needs of people coming from different backgrounds to ensure an effective healing process (Ashley & DeBlois, 2006). It is possible to compare Buddhism, Shintoism and Bahai religion to the common approach of healthcare professionals (based on Christian values) to understand what exactly medical staff should do when caring about people coming from different cultural backgrounds.
A Buddhist and Christian Approach to Patient Healthcare
Buddhism is a popular practice in the Indian subcontinent. Principles of this religion advocate for both meditation practices and precepts set to enhance the transformation of consciousness (Ashley & DeBlois, 2006). Clearly, Christian religion does not imply such attention to meditation and has only a form of this practice (prayer). It is necessary to note that Christianity also implies respect and compliance with medical advances (excluding such controversial issues as abortion or euthanasia).
Unlike Christianity, Buddhism has certain conventions that contradict medical practices which are common for western countries. For instance, healthcare professionals are not expected to use sedatives to a terminally ill person, because the Buddhists belief that suffering is part of life that they should accept. It is expected for Buddhist practitioners to decline pain relief medications or anything that limits pain. Christians tend to accept such medicine as the major Christian value is to care about a person and relieve his/her pain. Abortion in both Christian and Buddhist traditions is regarded as killing, which is not authorized in the faith.
The dietary regulations in the religion vary from different Buddha religion branches, most Buddhists are vegetarians while others are not. As for Christian patients, they may feast but, in many cases, there are a few dietary restrictions. Therefore, it is possible to note that dietary conventions in Buddhism have certain restrictions which can be common with (or, at least, understood by) Christian healthcare professionals.
Shinto is the indigenous spiritual religion in Japan and the Shinto believes that people are born pure. In Christianity, there is not such a belief and people often mourn over dead bodies of their close ones. In Christianity, it is also a norm for carers to spend last moments of a dying person with him/her. On the contrary, In Shintoism impurity brings death and a human corpse brings bad luck and, therefore, it should never come into contact with the living. More so, the moment of death as seen by those practicing Shintoism can come even though the person’s heart is still beating.
Unlike Christian traditions, the Shinto accept traditional healing medication and it is common to find the people from the religion combining the medical medicine and the traditional medicine (Morris, 2007). Medicinal herbs are used widely where pressure is applied at exact points on the body to release the illness from the body and to restore the Qi. The Japanese Shintos practice of acupuncture is also done and it is believed that the needles will remove the toxins that are accountable for the sickness and also ease the pain. Notably, In Shintoism as well as in Christianity, it is important to cure a person and relieve the pain.
It is possible to state that Shinto approach to healthcare is quite similar to Christian views. With patients pertaining to both religions, it is vital for the health care provider to ensure that they talk with the patient to explain the methods that they will use for medication purpose. In Shintoism (just like in Christianity), prayer also contributes to the healing process where the prayers are offered to make an ill person pure hence restoring their purity back. It is also necessary to add that in Shintoism children care about their parents and it is important to make sure that children are in control of the process. Christians are also concerned about caring for their close ones.
Bahai religion is the world youngest and independent religion. It also shares a lot in common with Christianity when it comes to healthcare practices. Quite like Christianity, Bahai religion accepts that religion and science are inseparable. The religion does not allow the consumption of intoxicating drugs and drinks, unless prescribed by a qualified physician. This is because the drugs are believed to interfere with the spiritual wellbeing and they are believed to pose a threat to physical health. This is also common for those who practice Christianity and believe that consumption of alcohol and drugs is sinful and not acceptable. There are no diet restrictions among the Bahai religion followers (Morris, 2007). However, there are some animals that they are not allowed to eat or use their products for consumption (for example, pigs).
In the issue of birth control, the religion allows to choose the method that prevents conception (excluding induced miscarriage). Just like in Christianity, abortion is not allowed, as it is believed to be a way of killing of an unborn child. However, when the life of the expectant mother is threatened, abortion is acceptable. This is also common for Christians. Therefore, it is clear that these two religions are quite similar.
What Healthcare Professionals Should Do
Clearly, when treating a person, a healthcare professional has to obtain some background information about the patient. This can be done through examining the patients’ records and through talking with the patient as well as his/her close ones. It is essential to pay special attention to religious beliefs of the patient. This will shape treatment to certain extent (Puchalski & Ferrell, 2010). Thus, religious beliefs may affect the patient’s diet. Thus, when it comes to lethal illnesses, in Buddhism meditation is essential and, hence, patients will need more time in private. They will also reject painkillers. Healthcare professionals have to respect that and give patients what they need.
It is also important to remember that in Shintoism attitude towards the dying is quite different from what accepted in such Christian countries as the USA. Thus, some medical interventions may be seen as disrespect and may cause even more pain (even though it is psychological) to the patient as well as his/her carers (White, 2006). Clearly, healthcare professionals should understand that and find an appropriate way out, which will be acceptable for all stakeholders.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that the research has provided valuable insights into peculiarities of provision of healthcare services to people coming from different backgrounds. In the first place, I learnt a lot about Buddhism, Shintoism, Bahai religion and expectations of people practicing these religions. Admittedly, the USA healthcare system is based on Christian values and practices and they may be very different from practices of people coming from different cultures. Thus, I have acknowledged that for those practicing Buddhism pain and suffering is seen as something inevitable and important and, hence, healthcare professionals are expected to respect that even though they may feel responsible for relieving the patient’s suffering. I also understand that it essential to learn more about different religions and beliefs as this will make the patients calmer and more responsive. Admittedly, when patients see the healthcare professional’s care and respect, they are more willing to cooperate (take certain medicine, tell about the way they feel, describe their symptoms and so on). Of course, they also feel that their deities will help them heal as they follow the conventions set, and this positively affects the healing process as patients’ spiritual state is positive.
Ashley, B., & DeBlois, J. (2006). Health care ethics a Catholic theological analysis. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Morris, J. (2007). Medicine, health care, & ethics Catholic voices. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press.
Puchalski, C., & Ferrell, B. (2010). Making health care whole integrating spirituality into health care. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press.
White, G. (2006). Talking about spirituality in health care practice a resource for the multi-professional health care team. London: Jessica Kingsley.