In this paper, the essence of cultural assessment especially in the field of nursing will be discussed in detailed by first, giving a brief background of cultural assessment and its role in the field of nursing. One culture (Indian culture) will then be chosen and assessment done by defining the culture regarding the types of food, health, religious beliefs. The possible barriers that nurses working in this culture are likely to face will be highlighted and the appropriate measures to address those barriers discussed in detail. The major health issues in the chosen culture will be highlighted and discussed in detailed before conclusion is made.
Cultural assessment is the systematic process of understanding the deeply rooted values, norms and other existing characteristics of a particular culture (Giger, 2016). In the cultural assessment process, the culture’s various components such as tradition, incentives, values, and environment are reviewed. Cultural assessment is of great significance in the field of nursing. This is so because nurses interact with and provide care to patients from different cultural backgrounds. This means that nurses must be equipped with cultural competent skills to be able to effectively communicate with these patients and provide the necessary care. However, over the years cultural differences have proved to be a great challenge for nurses in carrying out their duties because most of the nurses are not culturally competent. Since cultural assessment provides a detailed understanding of cultural values and norms, this paper seeks to demonstrate how nurses can use cultural assessment to gain insights of different cultures, for example, Indian culture and avoid cultural barriers when providing adequate care to patients.
Definition of the Chosen Culture
The Indian culture has been shaped and influenced by a history that is a thousand years old (Neilly et al., 2019). This culture is an amalgamation of a thousand unique and distinct cultures of all the communities and religions that are present in that country. Even though India’s dance, languages, food, and religious characteristics differ from place to place within the country, some elements unite these unique and distinct cultures. For example, the health beliefs of health in both Buddhism and Hinduism are derived from the principle of karma which is the law of cause and effect (Patel & Agius, 2017). Buddhism and Hinduism believe that every action, word or thought accumulates to karma which can affect the present and future lives of people including health and wellbeing.
This means that healthcare providers should be aware that in India, decision-making regarding healthcare can be affected by a strong belief in karma. Regarding food, the majority of Hindus follow a vegetarian diet and don’t eat pork or beef. Even though rules and decisions for fasting are not set, fasting is very common among the Hindus. Also, most Hindus follow the practices of Ayurvedic diet which classifies foods as either cold or hot not based on temperature but based on the taste of those foods which can either positively or negatively affect the health of a person (Shen, 2015) For example, based on the Ayurvedic diet system, food is said to be cold when it tastes either bitter or sweet while hot foods are generally salty.
Moreover, most Hindus avoid onion because its properties disturb their spiritual practices, for example, meditation (Tankebe, Reisig & Wang, 2016). When it comes to religious beliefs, there are many religions in India, for example, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism which are all founded on the concept of karma that advocates no violence. The most well-known proponent of this concept Mahatma Gandhi who brought India together through civil disobedience (Giger, 2016). Today, the concept of karma forms an important aspect of native Indian faiths. Aside from that, foreign religions such as Judaism, Islam, and Christianity have found shelter in India over the years.
Significance of Topic
In working with patients from different cultures, registered nurses are likely to face language barriers. However, various ways that nurses can use to avoid such language barriers exist. For example, a nurse can get a translator who understands and is well informed about the Indian language. This will eliminate the communication barriers because the message that a nurse wants to communicate to the patients will be done through the translator who will then communicate to the patients effectively in the language they understand.
Also, the nurse can “ask the patients under his care to be parrots”. Asking patients to be parrots entails a nurse communicating the message to the patients effectively and then asking the patients to parrot back what they understand about the message. According to (Neilly et al., 2019) medical memory helps to overcome communication challenges. Therefore, asking patients to memorize and parrot back will enable the nurse to uncover what the patients missed or misinterpreted in the message communicated and communicate the message again for patients to understand. Moreover, the nurse can be visual when dealing with patients. According to (Patel & Agius, 2017) 90% of all information transmitted to the brain is visual. Therefore using visual prompts such as verbal prompts that involve giving the patients verbal cue, for example, giving the patients drugs and showing them to direct those drugs in the mouth.
This will enable patients to remember what to do with drugs whenever they are given without necessarily being communicated by anyone which improves patient compliance. Also, a nurse can avoid language barriers by using easy to understand the language when caring with patients. This is so because medical terms are not easy to understand especially for patients without any basic medical knowledge. Therefore, using clear and simple language will help patients understand the message being communicated to them by the nurse.
Significant Health Issues in Indian Culture
The two most significant health issues in Indian culture are stroke and ischemic heart disease which are all cardiovascular diseases. Ischemic heart disease is a heart problem that results when the blood vessels taking blood to and from the heart narrow impairing the function of the heart (Shen, 2015). On the other hand, stroke results when blood vessels that take blood to the brain are blocked or burst (Shen, 2015). In India, stroke and ischemic heart disease have developed to be the leading causes of death-causing 80% of all the CVD deaths in the country (Tankebe, Reisig & Wang, 2016). Between 2001 and 2003, stroke and ischemic heart disease led to 17% of total deaths in India (Tankebe, Reisig & Wang, 2016). Between 2010 and 21013, the percentage of deaths caused increased to 23% (Neilly et al., 2019) These statistics show that stroke and ischemic heart disease are epidemics in India.
The progression of these two diseases is characterized by excessive tobacco use, the reversal of socioeconomic gradients, and low intake of fruits and vegetables especially among the Indians from lower socioeconomic status. Also, inadequate optimal therapy about these conditions especially among the people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds which leads to poorer outcomes. From the description of the two health issues above and their main causes in India, it’s evident that the priorities for promoting health in this country should first focus in sensitizing people about the dangers of tobacco use and the essence of practicing healthy eating habits. The leading cause of ischemic heart disease and stroke in India are tobacco use and poor eating habits. This means that most Indians are not informed about the health effects of tobacco and poor dieting. Therefore, sensitizing people especially from lower socio-economic status about the health effects of tobacco use and poor eating habits will help reduce the risk factors of ischemic heart disease and stroke which are the leading cause of death in India.
Cultural assessment is the systematic process of understanding the deeply rooted values, norms and other existing characteristics of a particular culture. Cultural assessment is of great significance in the field of nursing because it equips nurses with cultural competent skills that will enable them to interact with and provide care to patients from different cultural backgrounds, for example, patients from Indian culture. The Indian culture is an amalgamation of a thousand unique and distinct cultures of all the communities and religions that are present in that country. Some elements unite these unique and distinct cultures. For example, the health beliefs of health in both Buddhism and Hinduism are derived from the principle of karma which is the law of cause and effect. In working with patients from different cultures, registered nurses are likely to face language barriers.
Nurses can avoid these barriers by getting a translator who understands and is well informed about the Indian language. The two most significant health issues in Indian culture are stroke and ischemic heart disease which are all cardiovascular diseases. Excessive tobacco use and poor eating habits are the main causes of these two health issues. Therefore, sensitizing people especially from lower socio-economic status about the health effects of tobacco use and poor eating habits will help reduce the risk factors of ischemic heart disease and stroke.
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