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Cultural Views on Health

In: Social Issues

Submitted By december
Words 824
Pages 4
Cultural Views on Health
HCA/230
November 21, 2010

Introduction The largest subgroup of Asian Americans is Chinese Americans. The United States Census Bureau (2000) reported that 22.6% of all Asian-Americans are of Chinese descent. Another culture’s population that is quickly increasing is natives from India. Approximately, 8.7 million Indian natives live in the United States. Both of these cultures are dominant in the United States and share similar health views.
Chinese Americans Often, Chinese Americans access to health care and other services is denied because of discrimination. Even with Chinese Americans having the highest tuberculosis and suicide rates in the United States, access to health care becomes difficult because of language barriers, cultural conflicts, and attitudes toward illness. Because of these barriers, most Chinese Americans rely on traditional Chinese herbal medicine. There are several agencies such as the Richmond Maxi Center, located in the Richmond district of San Francisco and the Asians for Community Involvement in the Silicon Valley of California that were established to meet the needs of Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans. Today, both Chinese and Western medicines are widely used by Chinese Americans, although some use exclusively Chinese medicine while others only Western medicine. Traditional Chinese health beliefs include adopting a holistic view while emphasizing the importance of environmental factors in increasing risk of disease. According to Quah (1985), these factors influence the balance of body's harmony, yin and yang. The Chinese believe that yin and yang are two opposite but complementary forces and, together with qi (vital energy), these forces control the universe and explain the relationship between people and their surroundings. Any imbalance between these two forces, or in the qi, results in illness. The Chinese are imbedded in these beliefs. Their belief is that in order to restore the balance, traditional remedial practices may be needed. For example, a remedial practice can include drinking herbal teas to counterbalance excess `hot' energy. Chinese patients with specific chronic diseases (i.e., arthritis, musculoskeletal diseases, and stroke) are more likely to use Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In traditional Chinese culture, taking medication is disliked. Most Chinese take medications until the symptoms are relieved and then discontinued. If a patient does not have obvious symptoms, medications will probably never be taken. There are small groups of Chinese who blame ill-health or misfortunes on supernatural forces, or on the malevolence of a 'witch' or 'sorcerer' (Helman, 1994). Such groups usually seek cures from their religions. A cultural view that Chinese Americans also believe in is to protect the elderly from bad news. The elder population believes that discussing illnesses or death is bad luck. The rationale is that talking about something bad will cause it to come true. Because of this belief, there are an increased number of liver cancer cases resulting from Hepatitis B due to delayed treatment in the elderly, as the elder patients may not accept the initial diagnosis early.
Asian Indians Most Asian Indians, Indians that descend from India, accept modern medicine practices and pay careful attention to health matters. Ayurvedic and Homeopathic medicine is practiced among the Indian community. Ayurveda emphasizes spiritual healing as an essential component of physical healing and bases its cures on herbs and natural ingredients such as raw garlic and ginger. Ayurveda also focuses on preventive healing. One of its most famous followers is Deepak Chopra, an India-born doctor whose book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind has sold over a million copies in the United States. Many Indians also practice yoga. The ancient practice of Yoga dates back several thousand years. Yoga combines a routine of exercise and meditation to maintain the balance between body and mind. Indians believe that Yoga relieves daily stresses and strains if practiced correctly. Indians are less likely to seek out medical assistance for mental health problems than they are for physical health problems. The low levels of education and prevailing stigmas attached to mental health issues in India relate. The traditional Indian belief has been that mental problems will eventually take care of themselves, and that the family rather than outside experts should take care of the mentally ill.
Conclusion
Many American healthcare providers face many implications because of both of these culture’s views on health. In the American culture, medications are a big part of a patient’s treatment plan. The Chinese culture does not believe in medications. Americans also support seeking treatment from outside experts for mental health issues. Indians believe that mental problems will eventually work themselves out. These differences can be described as barriers for many American healthcare providers to provide adequate treatment to patients of Chinese and Indian descent.

References

Pavri, T. (n.d.) Asian Indian Americans. Retrieved from www.everyculture.com

Wang, L. (n.d.) Chinese Americans. Retrieved from www.everyculture.com

Wong, M. (n.d.) How Traditional Chinese Health Beliefs and Chinese Culture Influence

Health and Illness? Retrieved from www.ezinearticles.com

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