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Healthcare Beliefs of Different Cultures

When healthcare professionals are working in multicultural societies, it is important to consider the healthcare beliefs of the different patients they deal with. Getting to know the beliefs of different cultures might lead to a change in the treatment approach. Also, guided by the healthcare beliefs of a culture, the healthcare provider can decide on the best approach to offer help to a patient. Below is a look at the beliefs of the Russians, Thais, and Polish people regarding healthcare. The healthcare beliefs in these cultures are different by they share several similarities. 

 People of Russian Heritage

When it comes to healthcare, people of Russian heritage believe that an ill person should be cared for properly. Some Russians view the sources of diseases as punishment for going against traditions, and some associate diseases with evil (Shek, 2018). This high status that the patients are accorded influences their relationship with not only the family but also with those who provide care. There is also a strong belief in the power of drugs. Among the Russians, the fear of drug addiction is strong. Therefore before a healthcare provider prescribes drugs, there has to be consultation with the patient, especially pain medication. People of Russian heritage tend to be stoic, and they prefer not to take medication for pain.

 The Russians strongly believe in traditional Russian medicine. In 2005 the World Health Organization published information about how traditional medicine is common. When people of Russian heritage immigrate to a country like America, they have a problem understanding the cultural etiquette of the new surroundings (Shek, 2018). Patients tend to be so close with their physicians in Russia, and patients can confess to the healthcare providers similarly as it is done to a priest. Rather than understanding the autonomy and privacy provided by American doctors, Russian immigrants can complain about the quality of care not being enough (Shek, 2018). The belief of death among the Russians is linked to the religion they ascribe to. After death, the eyes are closed, and the body is laid on the floor. Bodies are never left alone, and embalming goes against the traditions because bodies are expected to go through natural decomposition.

People of Polish Heritage

Diseases and pain are viewed as punishments from God, providing a chance for people to repent or atone their wrongs. Therefore, similarly to the Russians, people of Polish heritage tend to approach pain with stoicism. Even though there is a stoic attitude when patients are feeling pain, it is accepted for ill patients to take pain-relieving drugs (Mathijsen, 2019). In the case of sicknesses, polish people believe in complementary medicine, and it plays an important role in the Polish healthcare even without any medical practitioners’ opinion. Some Polish people use homeopathic remedies to heal diseases, and they combine them with lifestyle changes and new eating habits.

This believes that people have affect their efforts to search for care. Polish people use the medical hierarchy. Efforts to visit specialists set in when the patient’s condition worsens, and this, at times, limits the ability of the health care professional to help (Mathijsen, 2019).  When Polish people immigrate to other countries, they tend to seek care from Poland born people due to the language barrier. People of Polish origin believe that death is part of life, and once the soul leaves the body, it leaves externally forever.

People of Thai Heritage

Among the Thai, there is a strong influence of religion in culture and in healthcare. Therefore the Thai people attribute health problems in their bodies due to the Yin-Yang imbalance (Truman et al., 2020). Additionally, some people also attribute health issues to supernatural causes, and some view these issues as punishments that are sent by God. The family is considered as the first healthcare provider to a sick family member. There is a strong belief in home remedies to treat illnesses, and biomedical medicine comes in as the second option. A unique belief among the Thai is that the soul is connected to different parts of the body, and invasive procedures might give the soul a gateway to escape.

Due to the beliefs that The Thai hold, providing care at times, might be challenging. For example, due to the fear that the soul might leave the body, Thais might refuse surgery for treatable health conditions (Truman et al., 2020). Healthcare providers should consult with patients to know more about their preferences and their attitudes. When it comes to death, the Thai people view death as a natural process, and there is a strong belief in reincarnation and the presence of ancestral spirits.

Similarities in health beliefs of Thai, Polish and Russian heritage

From the summaries in healthcare beliefs of the above cultures, similarities in belief include trust and belief in traditional medicine and the family being a support system for patients. Traditional medicine and home remedies are viewed as treatment options, and people result to biomedical drugs when traditional options fail. Another similarity between the Polish and Russians is a stoic attitude to pain.  

References

Mathijsen, A. (2019). Home, sweet home? Understanding diasporic medical tourism behaviour. Exploratory research of Polish immigrants in Belgium. Tourism Management72, 373-385.

Shek, O. (2018). Mental Healthcare Reforms in Post-Soviet Russia: Negotiating new ideas and values.

Truman, T., Higham, R., Chernenko, A., Ahmmad, Z., Pye, M., Sin, K., … & Kamimura, A. (2020). Beliefs and experiences about immunization among refugees resettled in the United States from the Thailand-Myanmar (Burma) border. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 1-10.

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