Cultural backgrounds have a significant effect on person’s beliefs and attitudes toward health care. The Islamic religion is practiced by a large part of the world’s population, which is why it is critical to consider health beliefs and practices of this population. You have included a comprehensive analysis of the topic, and I also want to explore the beliefs that Muslim people have about illness.
Bulbulia and Laher (2013) explain that there are four aspects of self in the Quran: the soul, the connection between the soul and the body, the intellect, the desires, and the consciousness. In the Islamic faith, illness is caused by an imbalance between the physical, mental, or spiritual aspects. Although Islamic health professionals utilize international disease classification, they also recognize an additional type of illness, which is a spiritual disease (Bulbulia & Laher, 2013).
Thus, the concept of disease in Islamic faith depends both on the contemporary medical standards and on traditions, and thus traditional medicine is prevalent in Muslim communities. When treating people of Islamic faith, health professionals should discuss whether or not the patient have attempted any traditional remedies and try to incorporate traditional medicine in the treatment plan in accordance to the patient’s wishes.
It is also important to note that there is stigmatization of certain diseases in Islamic society. This is particularly evident in mental illness. Sewilam et al. (2015) explain that, in most Middle Eastern societies, mental disorders is viewed “as a punishment from God, the result of possession by evil spirits (Jinn), the effects of the “evil eye”, or the effects of evil in objects that are transferred into the individual” (p. 111). Stigmatization causes people to be reluctant to talk about their mental health or disclose symptoms that could indicate a mental illness. Therefore, in caring for Muslim people, health providers should pay particular attention to psychological symptoms and refer the patient for a consultation with a culturally competent psychologist, if necessary.
Bulbulia, T., & Laher, S. (2013). Exploring the role of Islam in perceptions of mental illness in a sample of Muslim psychiatrists based in Johannesburg. South African Journal of Psychiatry, 19(2), 52-54.
Sewilam, A. M., Watson, A. M. M., Kassem, A. M., Clifton, S., McDonald, M. C., Lipski, R., … Nimgaonkar, V. L. (2015). Roadmap to reduce the stigma of mental illness in the Middle East. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 61(2), 111-120.
Peer Response 2
Thank you for your input into the discussion. You have provided a thorough overview of health disparities in Latino and Mexican American populations and linked it to patient advocacy, which is critical to proper nursing care. To contribute to the topic, I would like to point out some of the reasons for the health disparities that you have discussed.
There are two main categories of factors that cause health inequity. Firstly, structural inequities are “the systemic disadvantage of one social group compared to other groups with whom they coexist” (Weinstein, Geller, Negussie, & Baciu, 2017, p. 100). You have already mentioned one of these barriers, which is poor access to health care services and insurance. However, there are also other structural aspects that affect the health of minority ethnic groups.
For example, as Weinstein et al. (2017) noted, systemic biases in policies and practices have created a clear distinction between the resources available to people based on their race and socioeconomic status. People from low socioeconomic status do not have access to resource-rich neighborhoods, which affects their quality of life and health. Research also supports the notion that the person’s quality of life is a more reliable predictor of health than family medical history (Weinstein et al., 2017). Thus, structural inequities stretch beyond access to high-quality health care and represent a much larger issue.
Additionally, social determinants of health are a critical predictor of patient outcomes, as they determine people’s risks for diseases and conditions. Whereas structural inequities concern access to health care, education, and safety, social determinants of health are living and work conditions affecting health (Weinstein et al., 2017). For example, people living in low-income neighborhoods are at a higher risk of substance use than those who live in more affluent areas. Therefore, when applying Jean Watson’s theory to practice, care providers should take into account a patient’s cultural background, structural inequities, and social determinants of health.
Weinstein, J. N., Geller, A., Negussie, Y., & Baciu, A. (Eds.). (2017). Communities in action: Pathways to health equity. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.