Custom «Individual Cultural Communication and Health Care Sphere» Sample Essay
The Haitian culture plays a groundbreaking role in the life of its people. It is marked by traditions and cultural patterns which are a part of the Haitian life and considerably affect the behavior of the Haitian people. This behavior is especially significant for the health care sphere, as clinicians become obliged to take into account the cultural patterns in order to assist the ethnically diverse patients. Researcher Larry Purnell has tied the culture to a number of domains, having proved that ethnic and racial diversity affects the treatment process and nursing. This work aims at understanding the cultural patterns of Haitian people and their influence on the communication process in the health care sphere.
The Haitian culture is unique, as it derives from the twin cultural ancestry, the French and the African. Researcher Philippe Girard (2010), who conducted an investigation of the Haitian cultural peculiarities, found that the Haitian elite followed French traditions, while African traditions were veiled but still present in people’s life. The Pan-African ideologies have seriously affected the Haitian culture. For instance, the influence of African cultures on the Haitians has led to the occurrence of various supernatural beliefs, which have to be taken into account when treating patients of the Haitian background.
While discussing the issue of sharing feelings, it has to be stated that Haitian people are open to conversations; however, certain topics are not discussed with strangers. Haitians are very private (Purnell, 2013). For instance, older people tend not to discuss disabilities and illnesses, as they tie them to the common cultural, religious and social beliefs. In general, Haitian people willingly discuss different topics (Purnell, 2013). Haitian people are very sensitive, as they may cry to show that something bothers them. However, these emotions are revealed to close people only. When they do not understand something, it is easier for them to nod and smile than confess that they are unaware of the topic of discussion. Moreover, when people are afraid of looking uneducated, they try to keep to themselves and even seem to be closed and diffident (Purnell, 2013). It should also be stated that the topic of voodoo is generally perceived as taboo in the Haitian culture. Some people would be offended if they were called the voodoo worshippers. It is a rather delicate theme, which has to be avoided (Largey, 2006).
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Touch plays an essential role in the Haitian culture. It is considered as a sign of friendship, and it is common during casual conversations (Cook Ross Inc., 2010). Haitians freely touch their family members and friends. However, when people of opposite sexes are talking, they do not touch each other even in case they are close friends. In the heath care sphere, the Haitian people may use touch to show their attention and willingness to talk. Moreover, touch is also perceived as a supportive gesture.
It has to be stated that Haitian people need less personal space due to their cultural peculiarities. For instance, if an American will be engaged in a conversation with a Haitian, the latter will try to reduce the distance between them. This is because Haitian people try to demonstrate others their openness. They have a very close personal space and often neglect the territorial space. This concerns not only family members, but also strangers.
Eye contact plays a vital role in Haitian culture. It is necessary to mention that Haitian people tend to avoid eye contact with individuals in authority or of higher social status (Purnell, 2013). Direct eye contact may be used while talking to close friends and family members. Prolonged eye contact is generally considered to be a sign of disrespect. Currently, this trend slowly evaporates, as Haitian culture is influenced by American educational patterns (Purnell, 2013). Today, Haitians maintain eye contact between peers and colleagues. This gesture implies equality between the speakers; however, maintaining eye contact with children is forbidden, as they are considered to have no right to express equality with superiors (Purnell, 2013). This means that children have to retain a psychological distance with adults in order to show their respect towards them. In the health care sphere, this issue has to be taken into account in order to understand the behavior of children in a correct way.
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Haitian people apply gestures and facial expressions in order to emphasize the things they are talking about. Haitians greet one another by kissing and cuddling. In formal situations, they use handshake in order to appear to others composed and harsh. Men kiss each other only in case when they are old friends or relatives. Children greet people by kissing on the cheek. When Haitian people want to express their disapproval, they fold their arms, roll eyes, and look at the ceiling. They use taps on the shoulder to define the social relationships. Facial expressions often reveal the feelings of Haitian people, such as pain or sorrow. Haitian people often smile when they interact with strangers. They are very emotional, and with the help of gestures, they manifest their inner concerns and sentiments (Purnell, 2013).
In the Haitian culture, greeting is usually conducted through kisses. Moreover, Haitians tend to greet all the individuals present in a particular place. With close friends and relatives, hugs might be used. In formal situations, handshake is the proper way of greeting an individual. Children tend to greet adults by using their titles like “auntie”, “uncle”, “grandmother”, as in Haitian culture, this is the manifestation of respect to the seniors.
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Temporal orientation in the Haitian culture presupposes a balance between the present, the past, and the future. Haitians respect the past, as they consider it to be the historical foundation. In general, the attitude towards the past, the present and the future differs in accordance with the social status. For instance, the low income Haitians tend to be past and present oriented, whereas wealthy and educated people tend to think about the future. For this reason, it is quite difficult to speak about general temporal orientation of the Haitian people.
While discussing the impact of the Haitian communication patterns on nursing and health care, it is necessary to point out some specific features that the health care professionals have to take into account. Besides the behavioral and communicative peculiarities such as avoidance of eye contact and nodding in case of not understanding the topic, the Haitian culture is marked by the particular attitude towards illnesses. Researchers Nicolas, DeSilva, Grey and Gonzalez-Eastep (2006) emphasize that Haitians believe that illnesses are induced by the supernatural forces. In this situation, the culture has a profound influence on the interaction between a patient and a healthcare provider, as “clinicians need to recognize how their own beliefs may impact the way they perceive clients as well as the importance of cultural sensitivity for individuals from cultural groups other than their own” (Nicolas et al., 2006, p. 703).
Furthermore, Haitians tend to consult family members and spiritual healers before they resort to health care professionals (Nicolas et al., 2006). This causes a number of problems, as the diseases may start progressing, leading to serious complications. It is also essential to understand that Haitians have a peculiar attitude towards mental illnesses. They perceive it as a punishment, preferring alternative forms of treatment. In general, when the patients start consulting health care professionals, they are likely to be desperate. This exacerbates the situation and makes the treatment process more complex. Thus, the Haitian culture serves as a proof that health care professionals have to indulge in learning the cultural peculiarities of other nations in order to be able to manifest the respect towards the client’s cultural beliefs. In such a way, health care professionals have to be not only competent in the sphere of medicine and nursing, but also culturally competent. The awareness of the existence of different myths and beliefs assists in finding the common language with the representatives of different ethnic groups.
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In conclusion, it should be stated that Haitian culture is marked by its own features, signs, and behavioral patterns. All of them affect other spheres, and health care is one of them. In order to provide the patients with necessary treatment and support, health care workers have to be aware of the cultural patterns and show respect towards them. This might assist in improving the treatment process and lead towards successful treatment outcomes.
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