Influence of culture on health care practices: How nurses can incorporate cultural sensitivity into their practice.

Topics: Health care, Culture, Health care provider Pages: 5 (1544 words) Published: May 10, 2007
Current trends of an increasingly multicultural society emphasize the need for nursing education programs that effectively address cultural issues. To understand the diverse cultural backgrounds of clients, nurses must strive to be culturally competent (Marcinkiw 2003). Cultural competence requires the building of cultural awareness, knowledge, skill, encounters, and desire in the nurse. Clients will feel respected, valued, and have a greater desire to achieve mutually agreed upon health care goals if the nurse is culturally competent. The purpose of this essay is designed to show the cultural competence in the nursing profession by providing a guide that is useful for implementing cultural sensitivity in nursing education and practice.

Diversity. It is a word that means something different to each and every person. Bacote, 2003 asserts that the changing demographics and economics of our growing multicultural world, and the long-standing disparities in the health status of people from culturally diverse backgrounds has challenged health care providers and organizations to consider cultural diversity as a priority. However, health care providers must realize that addressing cultural diversity goes beyond knowing the values, beliefs, practices and customs (Bacote, 2003). In addition to racial classification and national origin, there are many other faces of cultural diversity. Religious affiliation, language, physical size, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability (both physical and mental), political orientation, socio-economic status, occupational status and geographical location are but a few of the faces of diversity (Bacote, 2003).

I would like to share thoughts concerning the complexities involved in caring for people from diverse cultural background; I came from different country myself. My understanding of whole Health care system in Australia was a lot different from past experience in my country of origin. As most foreigners it was just a matter of time before I could get use to the system of medical care. And skills like: listening, understanding, respect for my belief systems and ability to build trust were very important to me. Now I could tell that there is range of cultural behaviors and the need to understand people's actions from their own cultural perspective in health and illness.

Cultural values give an individual a sense of direction as well as meaning to life.

These values are held on an unconscious level. There is a direct relationship between culture and health practices (Bacote, 2003). In fact, of the many factors that are known to determine health beliefs and behaviors, culture is the most influential (Bacote, 2003).

Recently I heard an excellent paper where cultural supervision was discussed (Westerman 2004). There, I become more acutely aware of the importance of cultural differences vis-à-vis Aboriginal societies. Although I had been aware of these differences before, I now came to see that there were many cultural subtleties that require specialist knowledge and approach. According to Driscoll (2007:80) there is another kind of knowledge that can only develop when one has direct and deep experience of another cultural group. Cultural groups can be ethnic groups, or groups we sometimes refer to as sub-cultures (Driscoll & Yegdich 2007).

A humanistic and scientific area of formal study and practice in nursing is called transcultural nursing, it is focused upon differences and similarities among cultures with respect to human care, health, and illness based upon the people's cultural values, beliefs, and practices, and to use this knowledge to provide cultural specific or culturally congruent nursing care to people (Leininger 1991).

Leininger notes the main goal of transcultural nursing is to provide culturally specific care. But before transcultural nursing can be adequately understood, there must be a basic knowledge of key terminology such as culture, cultural values,...

References: Bacote, C.J. (2003) Many Faces Addressing Diversity in Health Care. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing (Vol. 8:1-2). Retrieved from: [05.05.07].
Driscoll, J. & Yegdich, T. (2007). Practicing Clinical Supervision. A Reflective approach for health care professionals (2d ed.). Bailliere Tindall. Elsevier.
Holland, K., Jenkins, J., Solomon, J. and Whittem, S., (2003). Applying the Ropper Logan. Tierney Model in Practice. Churchill Livingstone.
Germov, J. (2005). Second Opinion. An Introduction to Health Sociology (3rd ed.). Oxford.
Leininger, M. (1991). Transcultural nursing: the study and practice field. Imprint, 38(2), 55-66. Retrieved from: [05.05.07].
Marcinkiw, K. L. (2003). Nurse Education Today. 23(3), 174-182. Retrieved from: [05.05.07].
Meyer, C.R. (1996).Medicine 's melting pot .Journal for Primary Care Physicians (79:5-5). MinnMed.
Singelis, T. M. (2005). Teaching about culture, Ethnicity and Diversity: Exercises and Planned Activities. London: Sage Publications.
Westerman, T. (2004). The value of unique service provision for Aboriginal people- the benefits of starting from scratch. The Mental Health Services. (Sep.1-3) Conference Inc. of Australia and New Zealand.
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