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Heritage Assessment: Health Traditions


It has been acknowledged that one of the barriers to the provision of patient satisfaction is cultural differences and different health traditions. American healthcare professionals have to take these peculiarities into account when treating patients. Behrens, Del Pozo, Großhennig, Sieberer, and Graef-Calliess (2015) note that the acculturation style used by healthcare practitioners has a significant impact on the psychological wellbeing of patients, which affects the healing process. Apart from that, health traditions influence the way healthcare professionals’ prescriptions will be followed, which also has a considerable effect on patients’ health. At present, many healthcare professionals pay certain attention to cultural peculiarities that have been described in detail. However, it is vital to implement the heritage assessment as it can help the healthcare practitioner identify specific views of patients and ways to communicate with them. This paper includes a brief analysis of the heritage assessment of three families as well as the benefits of this assessment.

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Health Traditions Analysis

First, it is important to analyze some cultural peculiarities of the groups involved. The families involved have German, Mexican, and Russian heritage. It is possible to note that these cultures have a lot in common when it comes to health traditions. For example, all three groups tend to see illness and pain as divine punishment (Purnell, 2014). These groups have quite unhealthy eating habits (Sucher, Kittler, & Nelms, 2016). As to the attitudes towards the healthcare system and medics, the three groups believe in the western tradition and the scientific approach. At the same time, Mexicans, Germans, and Russians use herbal treatment (Purnell, 2014). The three groups often have similar views on authority. The cultures are characterized by patriarchal values, and the parents’ opinion has a great value for the patient. It is common for these groups to discuss the most important decisions with the family. The groups in question also value communication which is often associated with extensive explanations of the treatment and its benefits.

At the same time, there are certain differences in the health traditions of the groups mentioned above. For instance, Germans, Russians, and Mexicans have different attitudes towards time and illness. Germans (and Russians to a lesser extent) tend to address healthcare professionals timely while Mexicans often postpone their visit to a doctor. Mexicans and Germans differ in terms of their views on the causes of illnesses. Germans believe that improper diet, lifestyle, and hygiene lead to the development of disorders while Mexicans think that illnesses occur when the hot and cold balance of the body is upset (Purnell, 2014).

The Families’ Identification with Their Traditional Heritage

The cultural peculiarities mentioned above can help in addressing such aspects as health maintenance, protection, and restoration. First, it is necessary to note that the three families in question have quite a strong identification with their traditional heritage. The Smiths (the Mexican family) have the greatest identification with their heritage. The Porter family (the German family) can be regarded as more religious than the Bell family (the Russian family), but less religious than the Smiths. Therefore, it is possible to predict that the patients will share the vast majority of the values shared within their groups.

As far as health restoration, healthcare professionals should remember that these families pay significant attention to the quality of communication. Hence, it is essential to explain the peculiarities and benefits of developed treatment. It is critical to reveal respect especially in the case with the Smiths (Purnell, 2014). Healthcare professionals should also understand that major decisions will be made after the discussion with the family as the patient is unlikely to make any important decisions on the spot.

As for health maintenance and protection, it is necessary to pay specific attention to the diet as the three families are likely to have quite unhealthy eating habits (Purnell, 2014). The healthcare professional should focus on the need to reduce the consumption of fatty foods and increase the intake of fruit and vegetables. The Porter family and the Bells should be instructed concerning the importance of particular behaviors, hygiene, and lifestyles. These families should be told about the benefits of early visits and the risks associated with late admissions.

Effectiveness of the Assessment

This analysis shows that patients often have different health traditions and opinions concerning the overall healthcare system. It also reveals the importance of heritage assessment. Galanti (2014) stresses that healthcare professionals should understand these peculiarities and be able to communicate with each patient effectively. Heritage assessment can help achieve this goal. Clearly, many people may pertain to an ethnic minority group but identify poorly with their heritage. In that case, some cultural peculiarities of the group may be disregarded as the individual is likely to share American values and health traditions.

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However, if the identification with the heritage is strong, it is essential to pay as much attention to the cultural peculiarities of a certain group as possible. This assessment will help healthcare practitioners choose the most appropriate communication patterns, the most efficient treatment, patient education aspects, and so on. Importantly, the heritage assessment can help healthcare professionals identify the areas of major concern when it comes to educating patients. For instance, Hispanic people should be instructed about the reasons for some disorders development as the belief concerning hot and cold balance is not appropriate in many cases. Russian people may need to have detailed information about proper ways of taking medication with the focus on the benefits of proper use and risks associated with improper use. Purnell (2014) notes that Russian patients often take medication until the disappearance of symptoms instead of following the doctor’s prescriptions. At that, if the patient is assimilated, such instructions can be unnecessary.


In conclusion, it is possible to note that heritage assessment can be a valuable tool enabling healthcare professionals to address various issues associated with cultural peculiarities of patients. The analysis of the German, Mexican, and Russian families’ health traditions shows the benefits of such an assessment. It is clear that healthcare professionals can improve the quality of healthcare services provided if they use effective communication and behavioral patterns. It has been acknowledged that even gestures and showing respect can have an impact on the healing process. Healthcare professionals should be able to establish proper relationships with patients and their relatives as it will affect the way patients follow the prescriptions. Importantly, the assessment does not simply identify the group to which a patient pertains. It helps examine the extent to which patients identify themselves with a particular culture. In many cases, patients can share American health traditions even though they pertain to an ethnic minority.


Behrens, K., Del Pozo, M., Großhennig, A., Sieberer, M., & Graef-Calliess, I. (2015). How much orientation towards the host culture is healthy? Acculturation style as risk enhancement for depressive symptoms in immigrants. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 61(5), 498-505.

Galanti, G. (2014). Caring for patients from different cultures. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Purnell, L. D. (2014). Guide to culturally competent health care. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.

Sucher, K. P., Kittler, P. G., & Nelms, M. (2016). Food and culture. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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