Cultural Diversity and Health Care

Fundamental principles or norms shared by a group of people define culture. The group of people can be nation, organization, corporation, ethnic groups, profession, family or community that holds or desire to hold. These principles or fundamentals represent the over all way of living of that group including their values, beliefs, standards, attitudes, way of life, ways of thinking, communication styles and so on.

All these factors guide the people in taking their decisions or these factors constitute their actions. Every culture is different from other cultures by the ways or actions that are preferably taken to solve certain problems or the difference can be judged by comparing their ways of dealing with the external environment.

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People having typical cultural behavior can be identified by the situational behavior but such a group that is showing some typical behavior does not mean that every single person belonging to that group will be necessarily having these characteristics or qualities. (Ngomsi, 2009) According to Ngomsi (2009), Diversity here basically points out to the similarities as well as differences of among and between people of different cultures.

It can even exist among the people of same culture or at large level it can be among cultures. Diversity is basically the change of thought which finally results in to the different solutions for the same problem given by different cultures. (Ngomsi, 2009) Although there are many misconceptions about the meaning of diversity but it should always be kept in mind for positive attitude that diversity is not only for making any section of population guilty or targeting any culture or society.

People think that diversity targets for making people to think that they are superior to other cultures and even in professional life cultural diversity just give priority to some specific societies but it is not a good thought as skills, performance and talent are not the elements that are bounded to some specific culture so specially I this case diversity should be taken to get together and learn from each other. Diversity can never exist on its own; it is people who create it, develop it and then feel it.

Sometimes diversity of culture is imposed by the environment and surroundings but still it is over person’s mind that how does it take it. (Ngomsi, 2009) Cultural Diversity: Everyone has a culture which is a combination of language, tradition, and ways of life, ethnicity, values, customs and background. When a person is born into a culture then he learns to think and behave according to that particular culture. The culture has a long life effect over the personality of a person no matter wherever he moves or lives. The differences among different cultures reflect to cultural diversity.

Cultures can be diverse in gender, racial classifications, language, religion, traditions, ethnicity, concepts of morality, social behavior and the ways of living or behaving or interacting with the environment. Cultural diversity is mostly taken as a negative factor and there is a thinking that two different cultures can not adjust together. People should be trained to adjust in different cultures by realizing that every cultural entity is different from others and their thinking and ways of life should be respected.

The training of cultural diversity should be taken to a higher level of understanding by understanding the fact that diversity is not negative. This can be done by understanding the differences among the cultures, religions, traditions, ways of life and other factors that differentiate one culture from another. These differences should be well understood and should be taken positive. Another important factor for making the most of diversity is that people should talk about their diverse cultures peacefully.

This awareness and discussion can help to make the most of diversity but only understanding each other’s cultural differences is not enough it is also required to respect and flourish it. Appreciating each other’s culture can bring out innovative ideas, positive thinking, skills, talents and knowledge; these attributes can be shared then for the development of societies. (Smith et al, n. d. ) Areas of Cultural Diversity: According to Diversified Health Occupations, there can be different reasons or areas of cultural diversity. Few of which can be: 1. Family values. 2. Religion. 3. Language 4. Personal Space 5. Gestures.

6. Health care beliefs. 7. Spirituality. 8. Racism (Simmers, 2003) Cultural Diversity and Health Care: An important challenge or issue that is being faced by today’s health care system is the delivery of eminence health care in today’s progressively more diverse society. Diversity on the basis of simple skin, color and gender is not a big issue in today’s society but still there are some non negotiable differences in health care system that sometimes become noticeable when two different cultures with different languages, religions, customs, values, traditions and ways of living comes in interaction with each other.

In some cases the situation gets worst and people without understanding and respecting each other as being human start crossing their limits. As a result the most common things that take place can be conflicts, anger, physical violence and verbal abuse as well. Health care is a really sensitive issue and such racial or cultural differences can even be harmful to one’s life. It is not a place where cultural issues should take place. The people who are responsible for taking care of a person’s health should be having a positive attitude towards diversity of culture.

In health care system these conflicts of cultural differences usually take place among the two parties involved in some process like patients, family of patient, professionals related to health care system, administrators and facility providers. People who are responsible for providing health should not indulge themselves in such activities and should be able to recognize and handle the nature of all the patients or clients sensitively. (Ahmed, 2008) Following are some of the examples that show how people from different areas of the world think about there health care system. a.

South African: They believe that synchronization of mind with nature can keep them healthy and illness is because of God’s punishment, spirits or conflicts in life. b. Asian: People from this area think that balance of positive and negative actions and physical as well as spiritual harmony with nature can keep them in sound health. Health problems in their view cause when there is an imbalance between good and bad or when there is unhealthy environment. c. European: These people believe that health is their own responsibility and they consider that they can control their health by keeping diet, break, work out and prevention in balance.

d. Middle Eastern: Middles Eastern people believe in cleanliness and they believe that the health problems are because of spiritual reasons. e. Hispanic: According to them the health issues depend totally on their luck. If they are in good health they think that it is a reward from GOD. For them good or bad health is due to the balance between hot and cold forces. (Louis Simmers, 2003). As people from different areas and cultures have different concepts about the ups and downs of health similarly they have some remedies as well for keeping themselves healthy.

These remedies also differ from, one culture to another or from one region to another. Caring for people with different cultures require special training for the health care professionals. They should start with the awareness of different cultures and then try to grow their knowledge. They should try to polish their knowledge with special skills. Following is a model presented by Following is an explanatory and learn model that gives a picture that how the health care professionals should behave and deal with their patients that are culturally diverse.

(Cultural Diversity and Health Care, n. d. ) The Explanatory Model: They should have culturally sensitive approach about getting information of the problem that the patient is facing. They should try to gather information about the illness by querying stuff like a. What do they call their problem? b. What can be the reason of their problem? c. When it started? d. Why it started in their point of view? e. How this problem is affecting them? f. What is their fear about this problem? g. Is there anyone they know who is already having this problem? h.

Is there any treatment they have taken before? The Learn Model: After inquiring the patient according to their problem the health care professional should now behave as following a. He should patiently listen to the problem to patient n try to get it. b. After listening to patient’s perspective of the problem now the professional should try explaining his perspective but he should do this carefully so that patient does not get worried. c. Discuss the problem with patient d. Recommend the treatment. e. Negotiate about the treatment. Caring for Culturally Diverse Patients:

Caring for the patients that are culturally diverse is much more difficult and sensitive as compared to treating a normal patient. When a health care professional is facing such situation then it can be said that they are entering into a social world. Now he has to tackle the things intelligently otherwise the risk of problems will be great. It is challenges to handle a culturally diverse patient because the rules of behavior vary from nation to nation or from culture to culture based on education, social class, time duration that is spend in the country and personality as well as religious factors.

(Geri Ann Galanti, 1999) There are many issues that must be taken under consideration while treating a patient of different culture. Some of the issues that are common include: 1. Language: Language is a common problem that is faced by patients and health care professionals when they are from different fields. As the mother tongues are different so it creates sometimes a big problem in communication. In such cases interpreters are used so that the communication can be simple and easy. For hiring an interpreter again there are few issues that should be taken under consideration.

The interpreter should be familiar of both the languages of patient and health care professional and he should also be familiar with the English medical terminologies. An interpreter should be able to maintain the confidentiality and he should also know the importance of good and sound health. The interpreter should be able to convey the feelings of the patient to the caretaker properly and he should also guides the patient about what the caretaker has said properly so that he can improve as soon as possible.

In language the caretaker as well as the interpreter should take care of the usage of the proper language otherwise the patient can get a bad impression of them. 2. EYE CONTACT: Another aspect of communication that can create a problem is improper eye contact. In some of the countries and nations eye contact is considered to be an important way of communication. They consider it as a direct and honest way of communication. So if eye contact is not maintained then they start thinking that there is something wrong or they think that the health care professional is hiding something from them.

In American culture eye contact is a way to communicate where as in Middle East or Asian countries it is avoided. In Middle East culture eye contact between men and women is not allowed and they try to avoid it. In Asian countries direct eye contact shows equality and direct eye contact with a senior person or superior person is a sign of disrespect. So the health care taker should take care of the patient’s belief about eye contact. 3. Gender: Gender is again an important issue in many countries, religions, cultures and nations.

In many Muslim and Asian countries it is prohibited for a man to look at the body of a woman to whom he is not married. So in such situations it would be wise enough to appoint a health care professional of same sex. In many Middle East countries mostly husbands act as an intermediary between his wife and the others so the caretaker should respect their culture and values and work according to their traditions. 4. Touching: Touching is again avoided in some nations and cultures.

In Middle East and Asian countries touching between opposite sex persons is not allowed and is considered bad. The same is with Orthodox Jewish religion. There are some cultures that do not feel bad about this thing and are comfortable with the hands that are caring them. So again the health care professionals should work according to the culture of the patients. 5. Psychosocial Care: Sometimes the issues are not so simple and can be more than gestures and communication. Health care professionals should be trained that what kind of behavior patients are expecting from them.

They should not be frank with every one as some people or some cultures never like this thing and they think it as interference. On the other hand they should not be so much reserved that patients do not feel comfortable with them and feel as if they are not giving proper time or are not concerned with their patients, this factor should be given much time and concentration as any lack ness in this attitude will create a problem of racism and that should be definitely avoided. (Geri Ann Galanti, 1999) Caretaker’s Responsibilities:

The health care professional is responsible for many things but apart from giving the patient best treatment; he is also responsible to make the patient feel good. Gestures play an important role in making some one happy. So the professional should try to learn and use some of the greetings in the language of patient in order to convey the respect to the patient and also to show that how much concerned the health care taker is about the patient. This thing will also be pleasant for the patient n ho would be glad to know that the care taker has a respect for his culture.

If an interpreter is being used for the conversation then makes the patient sure that he is being understood by both the interpreter as well as caretaker so that he does not feel as if no body is getting him. While speaking or listening the care taker should give nice expressions by adding warm gestures of pleasure and comfort. The health care professional should repeat important information more than once and he should be very polite with the patient. The professional should always explain the patient the reason for any specific process or prescription and make sure that he has got the things well understood. (Terry, 1993)

The Danger of Stereotyping: It is a thought of health care professionals that if they treat a patient according to his culture then he would be happy with it and the task of professional is over here but this is not always the case. Sometimes the understanding of cultural aspects makes it easy for the professional to avoid any kind of misunderstanding and also helps in providing better care to the patient. But cultural differences are sometimes mislead and are turned into stereotyping. Stereotyping takes place when one thinks that all the people belonging to the same culture would be surely possessing same characteristics.

This is not a right thought all the people should be judged by their nature at first and then they should be given proper behavior. It is much better to generalize. Generalization is a statement about common thoughts and trends in a group or culture. At the beginning there should be a generalized statement but after that further observation is needed to make sure whether it is better to apply generalization or not. It is a really sensitive issue and it needs a lot of observation and care in order to avoid conflicts. (Gallanti, 1997) Cultural diversity can be successful and beneficial if all the cultures support this thing.

Cultural diversity is sometimes very much innovative as it can give a lot of ideas and it also helps in improving the communication among the different cultures. The issue of health care in cultural diversity is no doubt of very much importance but if the professionals associated with providing health care to the patients are not involved in to such racism, cultural differences and inequalities then this will be no longer an issue and cultural diversity will be handled easily. References Emmanuel Ngomsi (2009). Cultural Diversity Article – Cultural Differences.

http://yan-koloba. com/articles. html Accessed October 22, 2008 Gallanti G (1997). Caring for Patients from Different Cultures. http://www. ggalanti. com/articles/Intro. pdf Accessed October 22, 2008 Gerri Ann Gallanti (1999). Caring for Culturally Diverse Patients. http://www. ggalanti. com/articles/articles_home_health. html Accessed October 22, 2008 Putsh (1985). Cross Cultural Communication. http://hr. healthcare. ucla. edu/Download/Cultural%20Diversity%20and%20Health%20Care. ppt Accessed October 22, 2008 Sockalingum, Terry (1993). Cultural Competence continuum.

http://hr. healthcare. ucla. edu/Download/Cultural%20Diversity%20and%20Health%20Care. ppt Accessed October 22, 2008 Smith, Miller, Archer, Hague (n. d. ). Working with diverse cultures http://ohioline. osu. edu/bc-fact/0014. html Accessed October 22, 2008 Dr Rukhsana Ahmed (2008). Cultural Diversity and Conflict in Health Care http://d08. cgpublisher. com/proposals/153/index_html Accessed October 22, 2008 Louis Simmers (2003). Diversified Health Occupations http://www. texashste. com/documents/curriculum/cultural_diversity_in_health_care. pdf Accessed October 22, 2008