Cultural Beliefs About Health and Illness - Essay Sample

2 pages
456 words
Vanderbilt University
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All cultures have health belief systems that explain the causes of illness, how it is treated and who must be involved in the process. This has a profound implication on the reception and willingness of patients to understand and make decisions concerning their health (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2015). Nurses working in a community setting ought to be aware of the health beliefs and cultural practices of their client. This paper discusses the cultural beliefs about health and illness.

Western industrialized societies like the US consider disease to be a natural scientific phenomenon and promote medical treatment through sophisticated technology, which diagnoses and treat illnesses (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2015). Many societies also believe that illness is caused by the supernatural phenomenon and advocate prayer and spiritual interventions to counter the alleged disapproval of spiritual forces. Some cultures such as Pakistan and Chinese are unwilling to accept the diagnosis of severe mental retardation or emotional illness (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2015). In Vietnamese culture, western mental health interventions and counselling are not readily accepted particularly when there is self-disclosure (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2015). Hispanics have to consult their older family members about important matters that involves illness and health. There is a fatalistic view that Hispanics see illness as divine punishment or God's will that results from a sinful behaviour (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2015). They prefer to consult folk healer or use home remedies to cure illnesses. Thus, different ethnic groups have different values and perspectives to their health care beliefs and health care system that creates barriers to healthcare.

Cultural competence care is the ability to health care providers to efficiently deliver health care services, which meet the linguistic, cultural and social needs of patients (Jeffreys, 2015). A culturally competent health care system helps in improving quality care and health outcomes, leading to the removal of ethnic and racial health disparities. Methods that can be used in providing cultural competence include providing appropriate training on cross-cultural issues and cultural competence to physicians and crafting strategies, which reduce linguistic and administrative barriers to patient care (Lecca, Quervalu, Nunes & Gonzales, 2014).

Different cultures have their values, beliefs, and health practices that differ from the American health care culture. This has led to barriers to health care and the ability of healthcare professionals to cope with or manage illnesses. Therefore, it is essential for healthcare practitioners should be aware of the various cross-cultural issues about health and illness.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Weiss, G. L., & Lonnquist, L. E. (2015). Sociology of health, healing, and illness. Routledge.

Jeffreys, M. R. (2015). Teaching cultural competence in nursing and health care: Inquiry, action, and innovation. Springer Publishing Company.

Lecca, P. J., Quervalu, I., Nunes, J. V., & Gonzales, H. F. (2014). Cultural competency in health, social & human services: Directions for the 21st century. Routledge.

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