The Heritage Assessment tool is primarily used as a device to evaluate health maintenance, health protection, and health restoration of a person’s cultural beliefs and values (Spector, 2006). This assessment helps aid in providing quality patient care in that it helps to meet and respect the needs of different types of people and their respective backgrounds (Spector, 2002).
This particular paper serves to compare and contrast the ethnicities of Indian, Caucasian, and Arabic families using health maintenance, health protection, and health restoration as evaluation markers. The purpose was to identify and isolate different groups of people and their unique health practices and traditions that were based off their heritage or background. An assessment of these ethnicities led to several discoveries that I believe could truly improve our methods of health care. Cultural awareness is an essential part of life, especially in this country that is considered to be the melting pot of the world.
Cultural awareness can be defined as understanding and appreciation the difference between oneself and people of other backgrounds and cultural beliefs (Shen, 2004). Cultural competence is a term used to refer to awareness and skill acquired to be able to care for people of different ethnicities and cultures (Purnell, 2002). The heritage assessment tool serves as a questionnaire of sorts that is used by personnel in management or care-providing positions in order to gain a better familiarity of a patient/client’s values before providing care (Spector, 2002).
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These can include questions about everything from their childhood experiences to varying health practices carried out in their homes. These all contribute in helping the nurse/caregiver to be culturally sensitive and utilize the questionnaire to provide quality care to the patient without unknowingly overstepping any boundaries. The Indian family I observed and talked to was my own. Growing up in India had a huge impact on my life and the choices I still make today. Upon working out the Heritage Assessment tool, I found that I still hold deeply rooted ties to my homeland and that I have tried to raise my children in the ame way. Though lifestyles are completely different when comparing the person living actually in India to the individual with an Indian background, a plethora of factors pertaining to health still carry over. Indian families tend to eat foods that are heavy with spices and capsaicin. Studies have shown that these have a number of health benefits including weight loss. When looking into some of the decisions that my family has made that seem to stand out from my friends of different background, diet and religion seem to stand out the most.
Indian families are acutely aware of balance and moderation and this can be seen in the average meal. Religion is also a key factor in health protection. I have found that families will turn to God to keep their loved ones safe. Being from an Indian Catholic family, I am painfully aware this can also have its down side. For example, Catholicism discourages the use of contraceptives. This is a serious issue when understanding how this affects the growth of the AIDS epidemic not only among Indians but the rest of the world.
In terms of restoration, there are more herbal remedies and natural medicines involved than antibiotics and pills. My wife still makes an array of teas and extracts for our children before resorting to taking them to a doctor. The Arabic family I talked to had a surprising number of parallels to my own. They were also driven by religion when it came to health protection. An illness was often considered to be unlucky and a curse from Allah for your sins. The diet high in spices and vegetables seemed a reasonable method of health maintenance.
The values of the Arabic values were much stricter than the other families I talked to. An incident comes to mind of when it is very important to keep the values and traditions of the patient in mind. A Muslim woman was pregnant and nearing her due date. When it came time for her delivery, the only available Gynecologist was male and went through with the standard procedure and she delivered a healthy baby boy. The woman however, was shunned from her community because the doctor was a man who was not her husband.
Situations such as these are important to keep in mind when providing care to patients. The Arabic family also was more open to natural medicine and homeopathic medicine and sought to find a way to cure themselves before seeking outside help at a medical facility. Lastly, the Caucasian family that were my neighbors seemed the most different from the families that I had talked to but the most open and attentive to the world around them. Though their diet was not the best, they seemed more inclined towards exercise and consumption of vitamins to maintain their health and protection of their health.
They were also much better about keeping up with regular doctors’ visits and checkups and opted for more immunizations and vaccinations. They seemed more up to date and modernized in all aspects of health. They were also more trusting of modern medicines and prescriptions. They heavily relied on the healthcare system for health restoration even for the simplest medical issues. In conclusion, all three ethnicities have varying lifestyles that contribute to their current status of health. It is important to keep in mind that this is not an accurate report of that general culture.
Rather it is an extremely small sample that I found to compare to other families in a somewhat suburban town. I found it very interesting that even with drastically different beliefs and values, all three cultures seemed to value their immensely, even though each had their own traditions and methods so as to preserve that state of health. From the stories and experiences I have heard in talking with these people, I believe it is more imperative than ever that nurses direct more attention to the usefulness of the Heritage Assessment tool.
- Purnell, L. (2002). The Purnell model for cultural competence. Journal of transcultural nursing, 13(3), 193-196.
- Shen, Z. (2004). Cultural competence models in nursing. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 15(4), 317-322.
- Spector, R. E. (2002). Cultural diversity in health and illness. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(3), 197-199.
- Spector, R. E. (2004). Culture care: guide to heritage assessment and health traditions. Prentice Hall.
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