Health and Illness in Diverse Cultures

The U.S. population is characterized by the presence of diverse cultures. Moreover, the cultural diversity will grow in the future, so health providers have to be prepared to work with patients from various cultural and religious backgrounds. This paper will discuss some issues which might arise while working with Muslim and pish-speaking patients. The analysis of Muslim culture will contain the information from the video “Religious and cultural beliefs.” Cultural differences, such as national cuisine, dressing traditions, religion, and attitude towards various medical manipulations may cause misunderstandings between the patient and the medical staff. To address such issues and provide a high-quality health care, one has to respect and understand the other cultures.

Check out our pricing
Please note, 1 page is 300 words on our site, while most of the services write 275 words only. Save your money with every ordered page!
Type of assignment
Number of pages
Writer level

The Diverse Cultural Background of the Patient from the Video

The patient in the video is Nadira Ansari, and  she is Muslim (Think Cultural Health, n.d.). . Ansari is a middle aged woman, so she cares about all cultural and religious beliefs and closely follows them. However, keeping her cultural identity does not prevent her from integrating into local culture. Thus, Nadira Ansari speaks English and agrees to follow American medical protocols.

Health and Illness in Muslim Culture

There is a range of Muslim beliefs affecting the health care. Firstly, Muslim patients have food limitations, particularly they cannot consume pork, alcohol, animal fats and meet, which was not prepared in accordance   with Islamic rituals. Secondly, they have sacred  days, when  they have  to pray. For example, Muslim patients may desire to leave hospital to visit families and  hold  services during Idal-Fitr, Id al-Adha, and Ramadhan. They also might wish to have  a specific prayer on Friday at noon. At the same time, sick people are allowed not to participate in fasting if this can have exert a negative influence over  their health.  Thirdly, Muslim men and women are required to dress modestly in the public or in the presence of someone of the opposite gender. For example, men have to  cover the area between navel and knees, while women normally can leave visible only their hands, face, and feet. In the health care facility, patients might refuse to undress for examination, what is more, some women might insist on the presence of their family members during the process .

In addition, Muslim culture has specific norms concerning embryo experiments and stem cell studies which  are allowed only if they use frozen embryos collected for vitro fertilization. Genetic testing and some other experiments  with genes are acceptable only for therapeutic objectives. As for transplants and organ donation, some Muslims support these treatment options and some of them   are strongly against. Muslim people can use temporary contraceptives as far as  permanent contraceptives (e.g. vasectomy) are allowed only if pregnancy can pose a threat to a women’s health. Abortion is allowed only before 120 days and only under certain conditions, such as abnormalities of embryo or serious health risks for a woman. Assisted reproductive technologies are normally accepted but Muslims cannot use the donor sperm,  and surrogacy. Finally, Muslim people accept death and illness because they believe that these events are predetermined by God. Therefore, Muslim people can ask to stop the work of life supporting systems if some organs function only with its  help  (e.g. heart) but it is forbidden  to die through euthanasia or suicide.

The Issue Presented in the Video and Possible Interventions

An overarching issue presented in the video is significance e of basic cultural awareness in health care. In accordance with  the video, the doctor did not know that the female Muslim patient cannot remove her hijab in the presence of any man who is not her husband. Dr. Smith asked Nadira Ansari  to show  her head for examination but she  refused and asked for a female doctor. There exist  at least three interventions to tackle the problem. Firstly, it is necessary to arrange an examination made by a female health care provider. In fact, the patient from the video did ask Dr. Smith to make an appointment with the female doctor, who conducted a surgery, and he  agreed to do that. . Secondly, if it is impossible to arrange such a meeting , the male health provider should show  sensitivity and understanding of Muslim cultural beliefs. Dr. Smith did not do that. On the contrary , he looked frustrated and annoyed after the patient’s request. Thirdly, Dr. Smith had to explain the necessity  for examination, however,  he failed to do that. To avoid  issues akin to those in the future, he  needs to accept the invitation of Dr. Callahan to become more knowledgeable about cultural and religious beliefs of Muslim patients.

The Cultural Barrier in my Nursing Practice

In my nursing practice, I also face some cultural barriers. For instance, I had to examine a patient of Hipic origin, who did not speak English at all. . To deal with the issue, I decided to find an interpreter, and  tried to follow some specific norms of  communication. To  exemplify, I greeted my patient with last name, pointed to myself indicating my last name, and smiled what helped me to make the conversion more friendly  but not too casual. In addition, I spoke in a moderate voice in order not to sound angry .The patient could not understand the meaning of the words but he could hear my intonation and volume of the voice, which was enough for making some interpretations about my temper and mood. The other technique I used were frequent repetitions and summaries of the ideas. The patient had limited knowledge about her condition, so it  was significant  to provide small portions of information in a straightforward  manner. Finally, I said some phrases in pish, which helped to establish more trustful relationships with the patient.

Apart from the assistance of an interpreter and specific rules of communication, I gave the patient some brochures in pish related to her health issues and notes with the main points of the consultation so she could review them at home. . Therefore, these interventions allowed not only to treat the patient in the health care facility but also to raise  her awareness about the medical condition, and to   establish trustful relationships.


In conclusion, the research shows that work with diverse cultures requires  a health provider to be sensitive and understandable towards all religious and cultural beliefs. Even if the doctor  does not understand the meaning of some rituals, he/she should show  respect to them  and try to satisfy the cultural needs of the patients. Thus, the patient from the assigned video was a Muslim woman who had some  specific needs, Dr. Smith did not take them into consideration. Consequently, he failed to show understanding of the patient’s religious beliefs and was not able to explain the necessity of the  examination. In the future, Dr. Smith needs to receive consultations on this topic from his colleague. In my nursing practice, I had to deal with the patient, who had a language barrier. I was able to deal with this issue by means of  the support of an interpreter and written materials.

Do Not Worry Anymore