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Health Assessment (NURS 1109) Cultural Considerations lesson

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John Marsh
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Cultural Considerations lesson

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Health Assessment (NURS 1109)

Introduction
Culture affects nearly every facet of a patient’s life. It affects the foods patients eat, the way they
dress, how they interact with others, and their understanding of illness and health care practices.
To provide high-quality care, nurses must be sensitive to the patients’ cultural beliefs and values.
What Is Culture?
Culture reflects patients’ attitudes, ideas, speech, and overall human behavior. It has an impact
on the way patients relate to the people and environment around them. Culture and ethnic
group are not synonymous. Instead, they work together to create a patient’s beliefs and value
systems. Culture encompasses language, beliefs, etiquette, law, morals, entertainment,
education, and the shared traits among a culture group. Although physical characteristics may
be a shared characteristic, the nurse should avoid categorizing patients based on skin color,
gender, or other physical features.
Cultural Competence
Cultural competence is the nurse’s effort to respect patient cultural beliefs and practices despite
any personal differences. The nurse should give culturally competent care in an effort to
maintain care quality for patients whose beliefs may not align with the nurse’s own. To establish
cultural competence, the nurse should:
 Be willing to modify care to meet the patient’s cultural needs.
 Know that cultural diversity exists.
 Understand that even patients within the same culture group will have differences.
 Recognize that culture is deeply ingrained and difficult to change.
 Always remain respectful, even when they are unfamiliar with a cultural practice.
 Examine their own cultural beliefs and recognize that patients’ beliefs may be different.
 Recognize that patients’ definitions of health and illness are affected by their culture.
 Use an interpreter, if necessary.
 Be aware of the patient’s preference for personal space. Some cultures have a larger
personal space, whereas others prefer to sit very close to the nurse during the interview.
 Determine if touch is appropriate based on the patient’s cultural beliefs.
 Acknowledge the patient’s beliefs about eye contact. Some believe that maintaining
direct eye contact is insulting, whereas others require eye contact as a sign of respect.

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Health Assessment (NURS 1109) Cultural Considerations lesson

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