Health beliefs and cultural practices are an essential part of today’s multicultural society. It is beneficial for medical providers to be aware of the perspectives of different cultures. Minorities suffer from receiving proper health care because of lack of jobs, no insurance, and their cultural beliefs. A person’s cultural background can affect medical treatment and health care needs he or she may receive. People from different cultures have different beliefs on health care. The two different cultures I chose to discuss are Hispanic American and African American cultural views.
I will be discussing the cultural views between Hispanic Americans and African Americans and their views on health care. The majority of Hispanic Americans are Catholics. Religious beliefs and spirituality play important roles in health care of Hispanic cultures in the United States. Mexican American believes health is a gift from God and their health problems are a result of God’s will. Some Mexican Americans may not have resources for health care and use traditional healings to treat their illness. Hispanics respect their elders and the men within their culture.
According to Transcultural Nursing (1997-2008), Hispanics are accustomed to the professionalism of social workers, so they rely on their family and close friends for support or help. Curanderos and Santeros are two common healing practices among the Hispanic culture. Curanderos are naturalist healers who use herbs and plant to heal illnesses. Santeros use the power of the saints to heal and counsel. The majority of African Americans are Christians. Many African Americans view religious as an essential part of life. African Americans view God as the source of good health and a source of serious illness.
Many African Americans rely on religion, family, and social connections for support because of the unfairness they have encountered in the past. Many African Americans think they receive poor health care because of their ethnic background or their race. African Americans may not see a medical provider until this or her medical condition severe because of economic factors. Many cultures do not believe that organic approach is very helpful. Organic approach may seem impersonal to people who have a traditionally different method of care.
Minorities, such as African American and Mexican American, have been dissatisfied with the overall health care services because of the unfair treatment they receive as individuals. The organic approach uses scientific knowledge of germs and diseases to find out the health of a patient by using physical testing, conducting studies and experiments, and keeping detailed patient records. From an organic perspective, a patient’s cultural beliefs and social practices are not the primary issues of health care. Harmony perspective sees illness as an incident that occurs for different reasons among different cultures.
Harmony perspectives are common among alternative medicine specialist and folk healers. Some cultures, such as African Americans and Mexican Americans, believe that stress or unusual activities will lead to misbalance and cause a disease. Many cultures also believe that living a happy and healthy life will prevent certain illnesses from occurring. Harmony may helps people of many cultures resist disease and injury and recover more quickly. Many cultures may reason that disease is the result of curses administered by God or witches.
Some African tribes associate AIDS to the work of witchcraft and the association of witches working in the community. In Europe, some people did not receive the smallpox vaccine because they believed to be an interference with God’s way. The men in India refuse treatment or lifestyle changes for high-risk diabetes because they feel the disease is Allah’s will and they should enjoy the life in which they live. Stigma is a type of social rejection in which the labeled person is treated as dishonorable. A culture may consider people with certain diseases to be untrustworthy or immoral.
Some people with HIV and AIDS either keeps their disease a secret or risks telling people about the disease. Some people avoid going to the doctor because they fear stigmatism by the medical results. Refraining disease in scientific terms would shield sufferers from moral judgment. Diseases and their implications are open to cultural awareness. People are prone to assume supernatural forces are at work when medicine can do little to stop diseases. People do not wish to be stigmatized or blamed for their illness. Health is a subject with social importance and values.