People having a different cultural heritage tend to have different views on health and health care. The US society is culturally diverse, which creates certain challenges for the provision of the high-quality healthcare services. The healthcare staff should take into account the patient’s (and often their family’s) views on health and health care as it often has a considerable effect on patients’ health outcomes. Understanding cultural peculiarities of patients is of paramount importance for nursing practitioners who communicate and interact with patients more as compared to other healthcare professionals (Ritter & Hoffman, 2011). At the same time, assimilation and acculturation make the differences blurred as people often accept the western ways that reign in the country. Heritage assessment can help healthcare practitioners to identify the patient’s adherence to some cultural norms, which is crucial for health protection, maintenance, and restoration. The evaluation of three families (Hispanic, Asian, and European American) can be an illustration of the benefits of the heritage assessment.
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Prior to discussing the use of heritage assessment, it is necessary to consider cultural peculiarities of the groups mentioned above. The identification of similarities is important as it can help the nurse develop the pattern appropriate for all the groups. Latino, Asian and European Americans have quite different views on health and health care. At that, Hispanics and Asians have a lot of similar opinions while European Americans stand out. For example, Asian and Hispanic Americans pay a lot of attention to the family and advice given by older relatives (Lecca, Quervalu, Nunes, & Gonzales, 2014). Parents are often major decision makers in such families. European Americans are more individualistic although they can also take into account their relatives’ views and pieces of advice.
Religion and spirituality may be important to European Americans, but these concepts are essential for patients of Hispanic and Asian heritage (Lecca et al., 2014). Interestingly, representatives of the three groups can pertain to the same denomination (for example, they can be Roman Catholics). However, the degree of their participation in religious practice can differ significantly. Hispanics and Asians tend to value religion higher than patients of European heritage.
The attitude towards medicine is also quite similar in Latinos and Asians but very different in Europeans (Lecca et al., 2014). People of the European heritage tend to trust innovative technologies, practices, and the scientific approach. These patients share western values and beliefs that shape the US health care. Nevertheless, Asian and Hispanic Americans distrust conventional healthcare practices (Clough, Lee, & Chae, 2013). They often resort to traditional medicine including consultations with healers, the use of herbs, acupuncture, massage, and so on. Interestingly, Hispanic and Asian Americans display similar rate of herbs use as 30% of people in both groups use herbs to treat illnesses rather than go to the hospital (Gardiner et al., 2013).
The heritage assessment of the three families led to valuable conclusions. First, the Hispanic person has the greatest identification with her traditional heritage. The vast majority of her answers are positive. The assessment shows that this patient has health views typical of Hispanic people. She is likely to be very religious, rely on her older relatives (especially parents) when it comes to decision making. She may distrust the western medicine and trust healers more. She may be reluctant to address healthcare facilities. As to the Asian and European individuals, they hardly identify themselves as people of the corresponding cultural background. They identify themselves as Americans, which shows the considerable level of their assimilation and acculturation. At that, the Asian participant has a greater identification with his traditional heritage. This means that the healthcare professional should try to identify whether the Asian patient has the western or more traditional view of health.
Heritage Assessment and Health Maintenance, Restoration, and Protection
The assessment implemented can help develop proper strategies related to health maintenance, restoration, and protection that can be used with the participants (as well as patients revealing similar results). When it comes to restoration, it is clear that the Hispanic patient will take major decisions after consulting relatives and close ones. Parents are potentially the major decision makers to be addressed in the cases of emergency (especially when the patient cannot make decisions). The Asian patient is likely to discuss his health issues with relatives, but there are high chances that he will make all the decisions. The European American patient will make decisions on his own. Furthermore, it is essential to pay a lot of attention to the spiritual aspect.
When discussing the Latino and Asian patients’ health conditions, it is vital to explain the benefits of treatment and tie it to some traditional practices. The European American will be more concerned about such aspects as effectiveness, scientific evidence, and so on. The patients should understand that the treatment proposed is based on the principles valued in their culture and is quite similar to practices used. This will make the patients more cooperative as they will trust the healthcare professionals and the treatment developed (Ritter & Hoffman, 2011).
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As for health restoration and protection, the Hispanic and Asian (to a lesser extent) participants will benefit from receiving information on various opportunities available for them as well as the value of numerous strategies and practices. Again, it is beneficial to tie these practices to traditional medicine methods if possible. For example, it is possible to inform the patients about the use of herbs in their particular case. This will make the treatment more effective and patients more willing to follow the healthcare practitioners’ advice. The European American will concentrate on learning about opportunities available.
On balance, it is possible to state that heritage assessment is instrumental in the development of practices, methods, and strategies associated with health maintenance, restoration, and protection. Three participants of the assessment pertain to such ethnic groups as Latino, Asian and European Americans. The Hispanic participant is characterized by the greatest identification with her traditional heritage, while the European American has the lowest level of identification. The assessment sheds light on the individuals’ views on health and health care. It is clear that the work with the Hispanic patient will require the most attention to cultural peculiarities of this ethnic group.
However, when interacting with the Asian and European patients, healthcare professionals can apply the western approach freely. It is noteworthy that heritage assessment can be regarded as a quick and easy tool that enables healthcare professionals to identify the patients’ views on health and health care. Clearly, healthcare professionals will benefit from the use of this method as they will be able to choose the most appropriate behavioral pattern (as well as treatment) prior to meeting or talking to the patient. This will facilitate the development of proper relationships with the patient.
Clough, J., Lee, S., & Chae, D. H. (2013). Barriers to health care among Asian immigrants in the United States: A traditional review. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 24(1), 384-403.
Gardiner, P., Whelan, J., White, L. F., Filippelli, A. C., Bharmal, N., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2013). A systematic review of the prevalence of herb usage among racial/ethnic minorities in the United States. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 15(4), 817-828.
Lecca, P. J., Quervalu, I., Nunes, J. V., & Gonzales, H. F. (2014). Cultural competency in health, social & human services: Directions for the 21st century. New York, NY: Routledge.
Ritter, L. A., & Hoffman, N. (2011). Multicultural health. New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.