In the field of health care, cultural competency defines the aptitude of health providers for integrating professionalism in order to treat properly patients from different from diverse cultures, social practices, behaviors, and ethnicity. All groups of humanities from different races and cultures have systems of health beliefs that describe the roots of ailment and how to treat or prevent them and the people responsible for the same. The African American population in the United States particularly has their cultural patterns in regards to health care which are different from the rest of the American citizens. In this paper, we will explore these beliefs and analyze the behavior of patients who are of the African American origin.
To begin with, it is important to note that the African American culture upholds the significance of family and church. In the social setting, a family includes the nuclear family and also the extended kinship members like uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents. When matters of critical health concern arise, usually a leading member of the family is consulted on the decision to take. The older generation particularly grandparents are accorded much respect by the young people and often in some cases they do provide care for their grandchildren.
African Americans usually have strong religious affiliations, and a majority of them are Christians; although a few adhere to Islam. As such, many African Americans go to church every Sunday, and they believe that good religious practices correlate to having good health. According to Dr. Terry Richards, it is important to find out about a patients religion as this informs the doctor of how the patient views the impact of religion and faith in the treatment process. As such, the religious beliefs often have a significant mental and psychological impact on the patient. The doctor can use this religious affiliation as a means of treating African American patients.
The level of trust among the African American population to the mainstream health facilities is also a factor that affects their health care. Due to the past experiences of previous generations as slaves, many of the African Americans do mistrust the health practitioners and health facilities. Some recent events have also contributed to the increasing suspicion towards the health sector by the African Americans. One of those experiences involved the 40-year Tuskegee Experiment. Those who participated in this experiment were the African American men who had contracted syphilis. They had been selected to be a part of a research project. In this research project, they were to receive treatment but, unfortunately, it was never availed to them. This event has played a significant role in propagating mistrust among black people with the health care providers.
The African Americans history of slavery and oppression continues to have an important impact on their beliefs up to today. During this slavery period, the African American lacked access to traditional health services, and they were forced to rely on traditional means of treatment. Regarding this, they used the easily accessible natural herbs, foodstuffs, and plants for treating their illnesses. This practice has continued up to date and many African Americans still believe in using traditionally prepared remedies to provide medical care. Additionally, many African Americans believe in self-care and personal control of their health parameters, and, therefore, many of them do not have medical insurance. This is a risky behavior as it can lead to delays in seeking medical care unless one suffers a critical condition. Educating the African Americans on the importance of taking such insurance can be helpful in improving their health care.
The Providers Guide. (2016). Erc.msh.org. Retrieved 22 March 2016, from http://erc.msh.org/mainpage.cfm?file=1.0.htm&module=provider&language=English
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