Handling culturally sensitive issues

Handling Culturally Sensitive Issues

Culture is the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share. Culture involves learned and transmitted knowledge about values, beliefs, rules of behavior, and lifestyle practices that guide designated groups in their thinking and actions in patterned ways. Culture distinguishes one human group from others. It also distinguishes humans from other animals. A people's culture includes their beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art, and technology, styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems. Behavior is shaped by culture. The awareness of culture in the delivery of anesthetic health care includes respect for cultural diversity, culturally sensitive or comprehensive care, and culturally competent or appropriate health care. To fully appreciate the impact of culture, aspects such as disabilities, gender, social class, physical appearance (eg, weight, height), ideologies (political views), or sexual orientation must be integrated into the dentition of culture.

The concept of ethnic culture has four basic characteristics:

  • It is learned from birth through language and socialization.
  • It is shared by members of the same cultural group, and it includes an internal sense and external perception of distinctiveness.
  • It is influenced by specific conditions related to environmental and technical factors and to the availability of resources.
  • It is dynamic and ever-changing.

Cultural diversity has been defined in a number of ways. Often, skin color, religion, and geographic area are the only elements used to identify diversity, with ethnic minorities being considered the primary sources of cultural diversity.

Culturally competent nursing care has been defined as effective, individualized care that considers cultural values, is culturally aware and sensitive, and incorporates cultural skills.

Culturally competent care is a dynamic process that requires comprehensive knowledge of culture specific information and an awareness of, and sensitivity to, the effect that culture has on the care situation. It requires the nurse to integrate cultural knowledge, awareness of his or her own cultural perspective, and the patient's cultural perspectives into the plan of care. Exploring one's own cultural beliefs and how they might conflict with the beliefs of the patients being cared for is a first step toward becoming culturally competent. Understanding the diversity within cultures, such as subcultures, is also important. Some groups of people share a distinct set of cultural traits within a larger society. Such groups are often referred to as subcultures. For instance, the members of a subculture may share a distinct language or dialect (variation based on the dominant language), unique rituals, and a particular style of dress.

Last modified: Tuesday, 21 March 2017, 5:48 PM