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Hispanic community; cultural beliefs and practices concerning health care



The Hispanic community in the United States is classified as a minority group. They are from a different cultural background and this interview concentrates on health care in their view. Their cultural beliefs and practices concerning health care are different from those in the United States.


One common practice is that of seeking healthcare professionals as a last resort when their primary remedies have failed. They generally have a hierarchy that starts by administering home remedies which include herbal teas. The hierarchy continues till it gets to the lay healer who specializes in healing of both the physical and spiritual sickness (Loue, 2003). However this hierarchy has gone on to include modern doctors who they refer to as ‘naturalista' due to the acculturation process.

Medical professionals also need to understand that the Hispanics have various beliefs regarding certain diseases for example the belief that mental illness maybe a result of imbalances between a person and the environment and he/she must be prepared for the patient's lack of sharing such beliefs (Loue, 2003). Another common practice is the involvement of family members when a patient seeks medical care, who should be addressed according to the levels of respect accorded to them. The Hispanic perception of healthcare professionals is varied. Hispanic women who are not very fluent in English feel that the professionals disregard them because of this and advice on reproductive health may not be sought.

Professionals are also considered as a last resort after their traditional remedies fail. The barriers that the Hispanics face in accessing health care includes lack of insurance cover, inadequate education and language barrier that makes it difficult for patients to express themselves clearly, limited access to healthcare and cultural barriers such as the fear of being judged that prevents any from visiting hospitals.


The beliefs above impact their health in a number of ways. Cultural factors such as machismo are a barrier to the effective discussion of sexual reproductive health among Hispanic males. The women also don't get information on ways of planning their families using the contraceptives mainly due to the Catholic nature of their culture. The strong belief in God as the caregiver has prevented the older generation of Hispanics from accessing hospice care for their loved ones as they believe that God will take care of them and therefore resort to keeping them at home. As depicted in the interview, professionals are a last resort (Campinha-Bacote, 2002).

Suggestions to help nurses and the health care system at large to meet the needs of this group will entail having a cosmopolitan approach in the nursing education. This will enable the nurses to be global students and learn how to cater for the needs of individuals based on their uniqueness and not on categories of race, gender or cultural background (Campinha-Bacote, 2002).

To intervene in such situations, nurses must recognize the value of respect within the Hispanic community and the role of family. Respect will include addressing the family member in charge about a patient's condition rather than the patient themselves and learning to share the patient's medical condition with the family members as well. They must not also base their assessment tips on stereotypes. Instead they must be open to the idea that most of these Hispanics have become acculturated and are open to modern hospital care (Hunt et al, 2004).


Campinha-Bacote, J. (2002). The process of cultural competence in the delivery of healthcare services: A model of care. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(3), 181-184.

Hunt, L.M., Schneider, S., & Comer, B., (2004) ‘Should “acculturation” be a variable in health research? A critical review of research on US Hispanics' Social Science & Medicine, Volume 59, Issue 5, September 2004, Pages 973-986.

Loue, S. (2003) Handbook of immigrant health. New York, NY: Springer.

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