All cultures have certain beliefs that they use to explain what lies behind illnesses, as well as how those can be cured. Some societies see diseases as a result of an evidence-based condition, while for others they are the results of supernatural phenomena. Cultural beliefs affect the way people approach illnesses and how they want to be treated at hospitals. In most Western societies, it is common to trust medical supplies and technologies to diagnose and cure diseases, and some Eastern cultures tend to rely on spiritual practices. Of course, it is not right for all Western and Eastern societies but can be considered a tendency. This paper discusses the healthcare-related beliefs of the Japanese and Jewish heritage, and how they influence the delivery of evidence-based medical service.
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Cultural Development of the Japanese Heritage
Japanese culture is multifaceted. Its development was mainly caused by social solidarity and the policy of isolation. According to Masaki, Ishimoto, and Asai (2014), Japanese people consider the idea of harmony their biggest cultural virtue. This philosophy was established in the Constitution around 604 AD and is still rooted in people’s way of thinking and behavior. Japanese culture differs from region to region but shares many common features. Its significant part comprises peculiar upbringing and methods of social behavior. For example, Japanese people tend to have no clear distinction between rights and wrong, avoid confrontation and are prone to expressing their thoughts indirectly not to hurt others (Masaki et al., 2014). In Japanese culture, heteronomy prevails over autonomy.
Cultural Development of the Jewish Heritage
It is hard to define Jewish culture. It was shaped by Judaism, the communication between Jews and other ethnicities, and from inner social dynamics within the groups. This culture is complicated and diverse, as Jews have always lived in diverse communities and various locations. Some of them, for example, Yiddish-speaking communities, view themselves as a distinct national group. It is important to note that Jewish people represent an ethnoreligious community rather than just a religious group. However, the importance of religious traditions remains its common distinct feature.
Healthcare-Related Cultural Beliefs and Their Influence
In Japan, Eastern traditions as herbal therapy and acupuncture are still widely spread. Nevertheless, Japanese prefer the Western-oriented approach to medical care. Cultural beliefs have a significant influence on the way healthcare is provided in Japan. For example, the preferred communication style is “telepathy” or tacit understanding, which often leads to misunderstanding between patients and doctors (Masaki et al., 2014), Because of that, some Japanese physicians make assumptions on patients’ needs without asking them. One of the other beliefs is that people should be cooperative and take decisions together. It often results in families or parents taking the initiative regarding healthcare choices without their relative’s consent. Disobedience to such decisions is viewed as unacceptable. For this reason, medical professionals have misused the principles of informed consent and information disclosure. It violates patients’ rights to self-determination (Masaki et al., 2014).
According to Borneman, Bluman, Klein, Thomas, and Ferrell (2013), the decisions regarding healthcare Jewish patients make are often shaped by the religious traditions. It is true even for those to whom being Jewish has a cultural or ethnical, not religious meaning. Studies made by Lazarus, Pirutinsky, Korbman, and Rosmarin (2015) show that religion is an essential factor affecting healthcare decisions among Jewish people. For example, there are religious beliefs against vaccination among Jews, which results in undervaluing the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Considering these problems, it is essential for medical professionals to be open to spiritual conversations with their Jewish patients to provide the best healthcare possible for every individual case.
In conclusion, it is important to note that cultural background shapes the way people perceive medical care and their health conditions. Medical professionals should consider this factor while making decisions regarding patients’ treatment.
Borneman, T., Bluman, R. O. F., Klein, L., Thomas, J., & Ferrell, B. (2013). Spiritual care for Jewish patients facing a life threatening illness. Journal of Palliative Care, 29(1), 58–62.
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Lazarus, Z., Pirutinsky, S., Korbman, M., & Rosmarin, D. H. (2015). Dental utilization disparities in a Jewish context: Reasons and potential solutions. Community Dent Health, 32(4), 247-51.
Masaki, S., Ishimoto, H., & Asai, A. (2014). Contemporary issues concerning informed consent in Japan based on a review of court decisions and characteristics of Japanese culture. BMC Medical Ethics, 15(8), 1-7.