Assessing Cultural Values and Beliefs

The “Heritage Assessment Tool” is a guide to help determine cultural, ethnic, and religious heritage. It may be used to assess your own cultural values or the cultural values of other ethno cultural backgrounds. Using this tool will guide the user into making non-stereotyped assumptions about the heritage of a patient. The Heritage Assessment Tool allows the interviewer to gather a deeper understanding of the traditions that make up the health background of certain individuals or groups. Three families including the authors own, will be evaluated for differences in health traditions.

Health maintenance, protection and restoration will be addressed as well as, identifying common health traditions based on the authors own cultural heritage. Three different interviews were taken to determine the differences in health maintenance, protection, and restoration. The first individual interviewed was of Hmong descent. He was born in Laos and his grandparents were born in China. Summarization of the assessment tool showed high positive response. Hmong are a relatively close knit community that still practice an estimated seventy percent of Hmong religion (Carteret, 2012).

There is little health maintenance as opposed the western culture. Many Hmong, especially the elderly, treat illness only when it occurs. The soul governs the body and when illness or invasive procedures occurs, the soul flees the body. Spiritual healings transpire when the shaman retrieves lost souls. Maintaining perfect health is the balance between spirit and body. Physical causes such as environmental factors and poor dietary practices, such as hot/cold food imbalances, cause physical illness. Mental illness is caused by loss of spirits, curses, evil spirits and ancestral misdeeds.

Different degrees of illness require clan leaders to place braided strands of string on the patient. The color is dependent on the degree of illness, red being extremely ill. These may only be removed by the clan leader or family leader. Many Hmong use the traditional herbal treatments to restore health. Usually the sick are required to eat warm boiled chicken and rice. They typically drink warm or hot water. Post-partum mothers only eat warm foods within the thirty days after childbirth. The shaman performs healing rituals usually in the home and sometimes in the hospital.

The second individual interviewed is of Pakistan descent and was raised in India. Results from the Heritage Assessment Tool showed a greater number of positive responses. This person immigrated to the United States at the age of twenty-four and combines both western and holistic forms of health maintenance. His traditions mix both medicine and religion and uses yoga as a form of preservation. The Indian system of medicine uses Ayurveda, which means the “Knowledge of Life”. Ayurveda’s medicine is holistic with a strong emphasis on prevention.

More than eighty per cent of people in India rely on herbal remedies as the principal means of preventing, and curing illness (Bhungalia, Kelly, Van De Keift, & Young, n. d. ). The individual interviewed is a vegetarian. There is zero tolerance for any utensil used with the preparation of meat. Most Indian’s eat with their fingers and with their right hand. Over-eating is highly discouraged. Preference for cool food during pregnancy include, fruits, vegetables, and milk. After the birth of a child, foods that are prepared warm give the mother energy after the labors of childbirth.

Restorative factors include prayer and meditation. The authors own assessment tool indicates approximately one third less positive responses as opposed to the other two interviewees. Maintenance protection and prevention are done with both western medicine and holistic approaches. Physical maintenance is proper diet and physical exercise. Mental activities include socialization with family and friends, reading, traveling, and many other activities. Close family ties, especially among intimate family members are established and many activities include all family members and significant others.

Spirituality is found within the authors own personal means and does not include a religious institution. Protective measures in health include supplemental vitamins and herbs. Annual physical and exams are done regularly. The author rarely becomes ill. When this occurs, restorative practices include medication, herbal teas, hot soups, and rest. There are several common traditions among the three individuals interviewed. Hmong and Hindi culture are very spiritual. The author is very westernized in religious beliefs.

The Hmong use no preventive measures in health maintenance, the other two cultures take great measures in preventative care. The common factor in all three was the restoration of illness with food, preferably hot, and use of herbal remedies. All three believe their way of life is important and want to carry on the traditional beliefs of their culture. Each individual interviewed subscribes to different practices and traditions. The holistic approach was used by two, this involved identification with traditional ethno cultural heritage as opposed to the modern health care delivery.

All interviewed are slowly incorporating new and meaningful traditions along with maintaining the old traditions. Every family has their own values, beliefs, and traditions and every generation adds their own personalized, unique tradition. Effective traditions promote a sense of identity and a feeling of belonging (Duncan, n. d. , para. 3). Close family ties should be maintained because without meaningful relationships, the family is inclined to grow apart. When these bonds are weakened, emotional connection is severed and traditions are lost.

Individuals that have immigrated to the United States are slowly being acclimated to western medicine. Incorporating both cultures together keeps an integral part of the persons given heritage. The questions used in the assessment tool help determine how deeply the given person identifies with a specific tradition and the greater number of positive responses by the assessment tool relates how closely the recipient identifies with a traditional heritage. By using the Heritage Assessment Tool, health care providers can give culturally appropriate, sensitive, and competent care.

References Bhungalia, S. , Kelly, T. , Van De Keift, S. , & Young, M. (n. d. ). Indians Culture Health Refugees Immigrants. Indian Health Care Beliefs and Practices. Retrieved from https://bearspace. baylor. edu/Charles_Kemp/www/indian_health. htm Carteret, M. (2012). Providing Healthcare to Hmong Patients and Families. Dimensions of Culture. Retrieved from http:www. dimensionsofculture. com/2012/01/providing-healthcare-to-hmong-patient-and-families Duncan, S. (n. d. ). Family Tradition. Retrieved from realfamiliesrealanswers. org/? page_id=38

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