Culture is an organized train of learned responses which one acquires through interacting with others. Therefore, one’s culture depends on the community they grow up in, their religion, as well as age, and gender. As per US demographic profiles, the community is rich in cultural and racial diversity.
At least 29% of patients are likely to be minorities whose health care approaches need to be addressed with cultural awareness and sensitivity. Culture defines norms and how a patient is likely to feel about certain diagnosis as well as prognosis. Such cultural issues can impact patient treatment, evaluation, and rehabilitation. Therefore, nurses are expected to have an understanding of these cultural issues. Cultural health beliefs are the different perceptions which individuals have on causes of illnesses.
In some cultures, illness could be a natural phenomenon, in others it might be perceived to be caused by supernatural phenomenon. These perceptions impact what the patient thinks of the treatment process, as well as the extent to which healthcare professionals should be involved. In one way or another, patients make decisions based on these beliefs, within majority who belief in supernatural causes focusing more on supernatural powers as a form of intervention. These beliefs are important to patients, and therefore they always like to know that the beliefs are considered and respected during the entire process. All cultures have a system of health beliefs which they use in explaining causes of illnesses, how these sicknesses can be cured, or how they can be treated.
In addition, these beliefs influence who should be involved in the treatment process. These beliefs might differ with what is best for the patient, and therefore nurses may find themselves in conflict with the patient or their family members as a result of conflicting perspectives. Nurses are expected not to simply assume that the patient or their family is wrong. On the contrary, it would be advisable to have an open dialogue with the patient, provide them with options, and ensure that a culturally appropriate solution is agreed upon. Globalization has increased interconnectedness among nations, and therefore what happens in one country in terms of health care has a high impact of the rest of the world. Nurses should be aware of the concept of globalization and its influences on health because the increased interconnectedness of the world means that health problems have become global.
As health transcends national boarders today, nurses ought to embrace the power of this interconnectedness and utilize it to understand other cultures and how various aspects of these communities can help improve their patient’s health outcome. An example of this would be the nutrition powers of some of foreign meals, exercises which help patients relax, as well as alternative medication which has been adopted by various individuals as a substitute or supplement for curing or managing certain diseases. Nurses encounter patients of different genders, sexual orientations, religions, social classes , and ethnic groups everyday. Even though they are unlikely to know about the beliefs of these individuals, they ought to have the necessary cross- communication skills to help them navigate through conversations with these different classes of patients. Each ethnic group, religion, gender, and social class tend to bring its own perspectives and values in health care matters, thus the need to keep an open mind in order to recognize these differences and take them into consideration when working with patients from different backgrounds. This will help avoid the common pitfall of assuming that patients will conform to mainstream values. In order to succeed in ensuring cultural competence, nurses should do their homework on other cultures, religions, their dietary behavior, as well as their general view of health issues.
Nurses should also seek to understand the social and cultural factors of health as well as economic factors, and how these might influence a patient’s behavior and habits. Nurses should also not make assumptions, and should ensure that patients can comprehend the language being spoken to them. This would help ensure that there are no misunderstandings due to certain uncommon terminologies. Nurses should also avoid stereotyping patients based on ethnicity, gender, or religious factors, and rather seek to know them first before making any conclusions. Cultural practices, especially beliefs, are an important aspect of patient’s health.
These beliefs affect outcome due to the significant contributions they make towards patients’ ability to conform to main stream health care values. Therefore, nurses cannot ignore these cultural factors because if taken into consideration, they ensure patient satisfaction while at the same time ensuring that patient’s best interests are fully met. In addition to looking into patient’s belief systems, nurses should also seek to understand their own personal and cultural beliefs, in order to avoid stereotyping or wrongly assessing a patient’s cultural beliefs.