Cultural beliefs are a set of norms, practices, behavior patterns related to actions, thoughts, and manners which society’s members share and are inclined to. Cultural beliefs significantly influence the decision-making of healthcare providers and patients with chronic disease and their medication (Ohr et al., 2017). Cultural principles pose a challenge to healthcare providers as they are influenced by factors, including healthcare providers’ experience and the provider’s comfort level, to discuss end-of-life issues with the patients and their families (Srivastava, 2007). However, providers experience more significant challenges when their cultural norms differ from those of the patient, significantly impacting how they provide quality end-of-life care (Ohr et al., 2017). Therefore, cultural beliefs can influence how healthcare providers or the administration deliver end-of-life clinical care to palliative patients.
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The healthcare system in the United States emphasizes individual rights and autonomy to make life choices, especially those concerned with healthcare. One of the protectors of those individual rights and choices has been the Patient Self Determination Act of 1990 (Cruz-Oliver & Sanchez-Reilly, 2016). The Patient Self Determination Act also provides essential rights to the patients’ choice of treatment, informed consent, confidentiality, trustworthiness, communicating with healthcare providers openly, and the individual’s control on life and death (Cruz-Oliver & Sanchez-Reilly, 2016). However, these core values in the American healthcare system frequently conflict with ethnic and cultural values (Srivastava, 2007). The conflicts can result in healthcare disparities like inadequate management of symptoms, fragmented care, miscommunication with the patients and the patient family, leading to the patient’s poor death.
Conclusively, healthcare providers need increased cultural competency as pertains to the provision and improvement of end-of-life care. Cultural competencies are now a need for all healthcare workers, including social workers, hospice nurses, psychiatrists, family practice physicians, and all categories of healthcare providers. The latter must have explicit recognition and understanding of the specific and unique cultural influences on patient behavior, decisions, preferences, and attitudes concerning end-of-life clinical care. Therefore, healthcare providers need to be aware of the community’s overall cultural values and examine the significant themes related to healthcare provision individually for every patient.
Cruz-Oliver, D. M., & Sanchez-Reilly, S. (2016). Barriers to quality end-of-life care for Latinos: hospice health care professionals’ perspective. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, 18(6), 505-511.
Ohr, S., Jeong, S., & Saul, P. (2017). Cultural and religious beliefs and values impact preferences for end‐of‐life care among four ethnic groups of community‐dwelling older persons. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 26(11-12), 1681-1689. Web.
Srivastava, R. (2007). The healthcare professional’s guide to clinical cultural competence. Elsevier Health Sciences.