The Importance of Cultural Competence in Nursing

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All cultures and their views on health

All cultures contain systems of health practices, values, and beliefs about what leads to illness, how certain diseases can be treated or cured, and the person who ought to take part in the treatment process. The scope at which individuals view patient education as possessing ethnic relevance to them may have a significant effect on how they receive health information given to them as well as their willingness to use it (Betancourt, Corbett, & Bondaryk, 2014).

Different beliefs about illness

For instance, the person I have interviewed believes that diseases develop due to supernatural occurrences. As a result, the individual promotes spiritual interventions and prayers that counter the supposed disfavor of the powerful forces. His beliefs, values, and practices are different from my own since I am of the opinion that illness is caused by natural scientific events, and consequently advocate for medical treatments as the best way to fight microorganism by the application of sophisticated technologies to diagnose and cure conditions. What is more, the interviewee made significant effort to adhere to the therapy, though in a way that is consistent with his underlying assumption of how the body works.

Harmony and respect for authority in the interviewee's culture

The culture of the person also upheld that maintaining harmony is a critical value, thus there is a robust emphasis on avoiding direct confrontation and conflict. Respect for authority was also a key principle in the culture of the interviewee. As a result, disagreement with the directions of health care practitioners is avoided. Nonetheless, the lack of this kind of dispute does not necessarily show that the patient will adhere to or agree with the treatment recommendations. In his very culture, because an individual's behavior reflects on the family, any conduct that depicts lack of self-control or mental illness is believed to produce guilt or shame. Consequently, the patient may be reluctant to share symptoms of depression or mental illness.

Steps taken to address cultural differences

In my community, various steps are taken to value and address the above-mentioned differences as well as those of other ethnic and cultural groups. To begin with, health care practitioners are encouraged to learn about the cultural background of the patients they deal with. For example, they are required to inquire into clients' personal interpretation of the world experiences of their life, instead of relying on records of cultural attribute or by upholding popularly held views. In addition, nurses are advised to focus on the body language of the sick to identify expressions that may indicate that a person is in conflict but timid to reveal (Betancourt, Green, Carrillo, & Owusu Ananeh-Firempong, 2016). What is more, the community requires patients and their families to be asked open-ended questions for purposes of gaining more information on their expectations and assumptions. For instance, health care practitioners are advised to often ask patients what they want to do, rather than commanding them. Such lack of reliance on a physician's expertise promotes patients' incentive to learn more about self-care as well as preventive health behaviors. Importantly, nurses are expected to remain non-judgmental whenever they give information reflecting values that are different from theirs.

Addressing cultural differences in medical values and practices

Social organizations, workplaces, and healthcare organizations also take various steps to address cultural differences in medical values and practices. These include providing interpreter services to boost the level of understanding between patients and nurses, recruiting and retaining minority staff, coordinating with traditional healers, and offering training in order to increase knowledge, skills, and cultural awareness (Renzaho, Romios, Crock, & Sønderlund, 2013). Additionally, community health workers are more and more being employed in healthcare organizations to facilitate the services. Importantly, medical institutions are incorporating culture-specific attitudes as well as values into their health promotion tools while also including community and family members in health care decision-making.

Diversity in healthcare and the role of nurses

Evidently, each ethnic group has its own perspective as well as values attached to the health care arrangement. Similarly, numerous beliefs about medical care as well as practices are different from those of other cultures. Regrettably, the anticipation of several health care practitioners has often been that clients will follow conventional values. These expectations coupled with differences in language and education between service provider and patients from different backgrounds have often produced barriers to care (Renzaho et al., 2013). As a nurse, I can influence greater valuing of various cultural differences in my workplace by following the advice given by patient concerning appropriate ways of facilitating communication within families and health care providers.


Betancourt, J.R., Corbett, J., & Bondaryk, M.R. (2014). Addressing disparities and achieving equity: Cultural competence, ethics, and health-care transformation. Chest Journal, 145(1), 143-148.

Betancourt, J.R., Green, A.R., Carrillo, J.E., & Owusu Ananeh-Firempong, I.I. (2016). Defining cultural competence: A practical framework for addressing racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. Public Health Reports, 118(4), 293-302.

Renzaho, A.M.N., Romios, P., Crock, C., & Sønderlund, A.L. (2013). The effectiveness of cultural competence programs in ethnic minority patient-centered health care - A systematic review of the literature. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 25(3), 261-269.

October 13, 2023

Culture Health

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