The Importance Of Understanding Of Diverse Backgrounds And Cultures In Health And Illness Assessments
It is a well-established fact throughout history humans have used their cultural identity and religious beliefs to understand and cope with health and illness. We are taught that health is having a balance in mind, spirit and body. It is defined as the body being in a state of hemostasis and the lack thereof is considered illness. It is evident that individual’s personal beliefs and perspective on how they view health and illness determines how they seek treatment. The way we view health and illness has a great impact on the assessment process and therefore, as nurses it is very critical that we understand the cultural and physical needs of every patient to provide them with quality care. While the above is true, every patient is unique.
The minority populations have emerged to a total of 114. 5 million people and counting. Hispanics are the largest growing population followed by Blacks, Asians, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. Due to the above, it is very critical that nurses and physicians develop a good understanding of diverse backgrounds and cultures when dealing with health and illness assessments. Health care organizations are required to provide respectful care compatible with patient’s cultural health beliefs, practices and preferred language. The Holistic model approach of health and illness deals with the component of mind, and spirit working together as a whole. This model is expanded to include factors such a behavior, lifestyle, culture, values etc. Health and illness beliefs significantly impact how patients respond to health issues and how they respond to treatment. In some cultures, they also consult with folk and religious healers in addition to treatment from their health care providers. According to Jarvis, American Indians and Hispanics believes unless healing is carried out holistically; the body, mind, and spirit that it is incomplete.
Among the Asian culture they believe in “yin and yang” This belief requires that the mind, body and spirit must be in balance and the lack thereof leads to illnesses. They seek acupuncture and ginseng root for treatment. In addition, west African health beliefs are in line with having harmony with nature. They view illness as a disharmony with nature. They believe demons, evil spirits and voodoo hexes are they cause of illness. They maintain their health by preventing disharmony, avoiding sick people and having a reverence for religion. They protect themselves by wearing bangles and having faith. There traditional healers are Root worker and spiritualist.
As health care providers we must have an understanding and a respect for each individual group and their cultural practices because all they above factors impacts their health assessment. Lastly, it is evident that a person’s belief and culture could impact the health assessment process and how they cope with illness and seek treatment. To understand how health and illness belief influences the assessment process we must know what culture is. Culture is based on the thoughts, communications, actions, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups.
The above can have a significant impact on a patient health outcome. As a result, healthcare professionals must be culturally competent and culturally sensitive and possess a good attitude toward diverse cultures. They must understand a patient’s values, beliefs, attitudes and practices and how each individual patient views health and illness. While working at as a Nurse at a skilled Nursing facility, I have worked with patients who are religious and some who are traditional and adhere to their cultural norms. Based on my experience working with various patients I know that no two patients are alike and they each have a certain way they would like to be treated and cared for. In addition, health disparities also play a role in physical findings. For instance, this is prevalent in American society compared to others. Individuals may have poor physical finding compared to someone in another country due to health disparity, lifestyle and economic status. In European cultures they have better health outcomes due to cultural beliefs and their lifestyle choices.
In conclusion, it is imperative for health care providers to have and understanding of individual’s cultures, values, beliefs, attitudes, and practices. The above is critical in how we treat and care for patient. It is a well-known fact that better health outcomes are evident in good patient and provider relationship. When patient’s feel their beliefs and cultures are respected patient health outcomes are improved.
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