Chinese Health Beliefs and Medication Administration

Many factors influence the delivery of healthcare including ethnicity, beliefs, and culture. They determine how a patient makes decisions regarding issues concerning their health, how they understand health concepts, and how they handle their health. Clinicians are expected to possess desirable skills to achieve their objectives and provide appropriate medical advice while considering the health and cultural beliefs of their patients. Health beliefs entail the definition of health by patients and their understanding of what constitutes health. They include what patients consider as the cause of their illness and how it can be eliminated (Cheng, 2018). This paper intends to explain the impact of health beliefs on medication preparation, medication administration, potential adverse reactions, and adherence to medication regimens as applied in the traditional Chinese culture.

Traditional Chinese people argue that an imbalance of energy or vital cause in the body is responsible for the development of illnesses. They argue that poor harmony of emotions influences evil spirits that cause mental illness. Some people in the Chinese culture do not believe in pharmaceutical medicines but continue to prefer herbal medicines. They trust indigenous prepared medicines since they believe that they are more effective and are associated with fewer or no side effects. Many people in the culture particularly the elderly have a feeling that modern medicines are expensive and lack the necessary efficacy to offer effective treatment (Cheng, 2018). These beliefs hinder people from accepting recommended medication whenever they come to a health facility to seek treatment. It is sometimes difficult or impossible to prepare medicines in a manner that would meet the expectation of the patient. In this regard, a patient’s health beliefs interfere with the delivery of quality health services and the achievement of the nursing objectives.

Chinese health beliefs impact medication administration in two ways namely refusal to take medicines from health practitioners and rejecting preventive treatment. Some people believe that only the medicine men should administer medicines and insist that the administration of medicines is only acceptable when one is sick (Cheng, 2018). These beliefs frustrate nurses whenever they attempt to give medicines to these patients. It affects patients’ perception of health practitioners, medication processes, and the entire environment making it difficult to achieve a desirable quality of care. The understanding that medication can only be given by specific people affects the work of health practitioners and the attained quality of service. They affect how the patient manages and seek care, and from whom depending on their beliefs. This means that health beliefs affect compliance with the treatment process and willingness to follow medical recommendations.

Cultural health beliefs are linked to potential adverse reactions that can create devastating outcomes that are life-threatening. Two of these reactions could be an overdose and underdose because of prescription of poor medication. Since cultural beliefs affect the interaction and communication between patients and their health providers, there are increased chances of medical errors because of poor understanding of the health condition. Chances of giving either excess or inadequate medication increase as the practitioner is unable to determine with accuracy issues affecting their patients. Medical officers usually relate the provided dosage with the sickness level (Cheng, 2018). A patient who is not willing to cooperate or share relevant information hinders doctors from determining the right dosage when administering medication. Overdose and underdose medication can result in adverse reactions some of which could be life-threatening. Under-dose medication is usually insufficient to support the healing process and can make it more difficult to treat the disease in the future, particularly in case resistance to medication is developed.

One possible issue in adherence to a medication regimen is an increase in the risk of physical impairments and cognitive limitations, particularly among old adults. Many factors influence poor adherence to medication including low self-esteem, poor motivation, and lack of the necessary knowledge. Substance abuse is another possible cause of poor adherence to medication since it affects the ability to reason out or understand the situation appropriately. It is more likely when the patient was not involved in the decision-making process and lacks desirable health literacy (Cheng, 2018). Communication barriers and complex drug regimens tend to worsen the situation and increase the chances of poor adherence. Educating the patient, communicating effectively, prescribing simple medicines, and involving the patient can help overcome the problem.

Cultural health beliefs have a great impact on the preparation and administration of medication affecting the ability to attain quality health care services. Having a varying understanding of the meaning and causes of a health condition affects the treatment process. Traditional Chinese have their understanding and definitions of the causes of illness, and the meaning of health. It determines their assumptions, attitudes, behaviors, expectations, and reactions to life events. Health beliefs determine people’s behaviors, health outcomes, interactions, and communication. It affects the administration of medication since patients can reject medicines prepared in a certain way or presented by the wrong person. The belief can influence potential adverse reactions such as overdose and underdose. Poor adherence can cause physical impairment and affect cognitive abilities.


Cheng, H. W. B. (2018). Advance care planning in Chinese seniors: cultural perspectives. Journal of Palliative Care, 33(4), 242-246. Web.

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