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Culture and Health Essay

A person’s heritage encompasses the full scope of inherited traditions, religion, and culture. It can influence the activities and behaviors that individuals draw from. Heritage is something that can give a sense of who, what, where and how a person fits into a society and develops over time. Heritage can be a sense of identity that is valued by a single person or include a wider group of individuals. Many times a heritage is something that is passed down through the generations. Health traditions can be a very important part of a cultural heritage.

This paper will be discussing the usefulness of applying a heritage assessment in evaluating the needs of the whole person. Second, this paper will review information collected through interviews from three families each from a different culture. This section will address the differences in health traditions between the different cultures, including health maintenance, health protection, and health restoration. The three cultures being discussed include Chinese, Hispanic and American.

The American heritage is that of the authors and will focus on the author’s religion of Mormonism. Common health traditions will be identified and how families subscribe to these traditions and practices will be discussed. The goal of this paper is to provide a greater understanding of the heritage assessment tool, how health traditions may vary in other cultures and how families subscribe to traditions and practices. People have a different cultural heritage that effects their beliefs and traditions. It is important to respect each individual’s different heritage.

Rachael Spector created the Heritage Assessment Tool, a questionnaire used to assess an individual’s heritage. When describing this tool it states, “This set of questions can be used to investigate a given patient’s or your own ethnic, cultural, and religious heritage. It can help you to perform a heritage assessment to determine how deeply a given person identifies with a particular tradition. It is most useful in setting the stage for understanding a person’s health traditions” (Cultural, 2012, sec. 3) The heritage assessment tool helps to determine one’s ethnic, religious and ultural background. When showing sensitivity to a patient’s culture it can create a good relationship with them. Understanding the culture of a patient is important for the nurse so as to provide care that fits the patient’s health traditions. Once beliefs and culture are identified a nurse can respect those cultures and give culturally appropriate care to the patient. People come from different cultures with different heritage traditions, especially when dealing with health. Nurses have to respect these cultural diversities.

By using a heritage assessment a nurse can understand the needs of their patient. A person’s cultural heritage, religion, and /or beliefs, greatly influences a person’s response to medical care and their health traditions (Spector, 2009). When looking at health heritage, one needs to look at traditional health methods used to maintain, protect, and restore health. These three methods have been described as follows, “Health maintenance—the traditional beliefs and practices, such as daily health-related activities, diet, exercise, rest, and clothing, used to maintain health.

Health protection—the traditional beliefs and practices about what should be done on special occasions or on an ongoing basis for health protection, such as food taboos and wearing amulets. Health restoration—the traditional beliefs and practices concerning the activities, such as the use of folk remedies and healers, that must be used to restore health” (Cultural, 2012, sec. Selected Cultural Care Terms). Three individuals from different cultures have been interviewed to discuss their views on these health methods based on their heritage and traditions.

Those three cultures include Chinese, Hispanic, and American. In the Chinese culture, the people believe that herbs and tea are essential in the healing and maintaining of ones body. To help with health maintenance many people in the Chinese culture will clean using herbs. To promote health protection different tea can be drank to prevent different illnesses, for example ginger tea can help prevent the flu. Chinese individuals may use different tea to help fight an illness, they believe herbal tea can help restore health after a bad cold or cough (J.

Chen, personal communication, February 28, 2013). When it comes to health the majority of Hispanic culture are very strong believers in their religion. Often Hispanic families come from a Catholic faith and have a strong belief in God and prayer. In the Hispanic culture, families are very close and this typically includes the extended family. Some feel that living by family helps with stress and overall happiness, which improves health. When is comes to health they think eating is important and eggs are helpful in health maintenance.

They also use tea and herbs for healing purposes. Many times Hispanics include their family in health decisions (L. Bayardo, personal communication, February 28, 2013). The last family interviewed was the author’s family. The author comes from an American heritage. In America there are so many different types of cultures and heritages. The author feels that his family heritage gains most of its beliefs and traditions from religion. The author grew up a Latter Day Saint, also known as a Mormon.

In the Mormon religion families put a lot of belief in God, prayer, and priesthood blessings for healing and health. Mormons also believe in the use of modern day medicine for health and healing. In order to maintain and protect health Mormons believe in healthy eating habits, healthy living habits and abstaining from drugs, alcohol and coffee. Mormons have similar health habits and traditions to many Americans with other religions. Based on the interviews conducted many cultures believe in having healthy eating habits for health maintenance.

It is also shown that different cultures have different ideas of health protection and restoration. These different methods can all be beneficial and should be respected. The different families subscribe to and support their heritage by practicing the things they have been taught and sharing the information that has been passed down. In order to keep traditions alive and health habits to be observed and practiced they need to be understood and respected by the next generation. Heritage and culture help individuals to understand whom they are, where they come from, and what they believe.

There are many different cultures, each having different beliefs and values. These beliefs and values contribute to different perceptions on health and illness. By assessing an individual’s cultural heritage, nurses can have effective communication and provide meaningful care to their patients. It is important for nurses to not only understand their own cultural practices, but other cultures as well. In order to offer the best care heritage and culture need to be understood and respected.

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