Cultural Characteristics in Treating Patients

Various socio-economic, lifestyle and spiritual characteristics of cultures affect human health. For example, many people believe in and practice traditional medicine, relying on ancient traditions and socio-economic reasons. The populations of developing countries are deprived of the income to use health services. Other cultures may have additional ideas about what kind of body is healthy and beautiful. Individuals from different parts of the world traditionally build independent views about medicine and treatment methods. Thus, it becomes critical for nurses and other medical professionals to consider cultural characteristics for successful treatment.

In the United States, the differences among the population by racial, ethnic, and cultural characteristics are most pronounced. They are traced in the health care field, manifesting themselves in different levels of morbidity and mortality among the people of the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). Thus, it becomes particularly important to expand awareness and services according to these cultural and socio-economic characteristics (Melton et al., 2014). For example, American Indians and Alaska Natives did not receive adequate access to health care due to historical discrimination (Espey et al., 2014). In turn, this has led to the fact that a number of diseases are found among these people. Thus, cultural competence is a set of certain behavioral models that allows medical workers to operate most effectively in an intercultural framework (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). While working, it becomes important for the medical professional and the nurse, in particular, to identify the patient’s culture, value their beliefs and judgments, and correctly assess their social and economic situation.

In this case, the patient is a 54-year-old Caucasian male after his alcohol withdrawal-related stroke. During the examination, it is important to pay attention to his medical history, namely hypertension and past addictions to alcohol and cocaine. Among other things, the patient is homeless and currently lives in a local homeless shelter. In this context, socio-economic factors determine the severity of the patient’s condition. In addition, the patient has been deprived of access to amlodipine 10 mg, which he has to take to cope with his condition, but he does not have enough financial support. Finally, the man cannot give up such a bad habit as smoking cigarettes. He abstains from alcohol and needs something to replace it, so he is forced to continue smoking.

In this way, it becomes possible to identify several targeted questions for the patient before treatment. First, it is important to determine how long he has suffered from alcohol and drug (cocaine) addiction to assess his current state, as the severity of its withdrawal depends on it. Secondly, it is expected to find out how long a man was addicted to alcohol and cocaine. Third, special attention should be paid to the socio-economic situation of the patient (United States Department of Human & Health Services, n.d.). It is necessary to determine what the conditions of his residence are at the moment. Since I know that the patient is homeless, it is critical to understand whether his living conditions in the shelter are favorable. This leads to the following question about whether the patient has the means to purchase the necessary medicines to determine the best medication. Finally, an understanding of other addictions of the patient is required. In this way, it will be possible to build a plan to meet the patient’s needs without harm to his health.

The main challenges associated with communicating with patients from different populations include the lack of trust, poor understanding of their basic needs, and confusing care demands. To overcome unnecessary problems and concerns, a nurse should be sensitive to different cultural factors and follow certain strategies. The most common steps in establishing trustful relationships with patients are careful listening, information exchange, and the promotion of shared decision-making. To gather information, nurses have to address several sources, observe different perspectives, and ask questions instead of making guesses.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Cultural competence. Web.

Espey, D. K., Jim, M. A., Cobb, N., Bartholomew, M., Becker, T., Haverkamp, D., & Plescia, M. (2014). Leading causes of death and all-cause mortality in American Indians and Alaska Natives. American journal of public health, 104(3), 303-311. Web.

Melton, C., Graff, C., Holmes, G. N., Brown, L., & Bailey, J. (2014). Health literacy and asthma management among African-American adults: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Journal of Asthma, 51(7), 703-713. Web.

United States Department of Human & Health Services. Office of Minority Health. (n.d.). A physician’s practical guide to culturally competent care. Web.

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