Evaluation and Discussion of the Way Families Subscribe to the Traditions and Practices
The questions of the heritage assessment tool (HAT) bring out a patient’s background, family relations, religious practices, and social support beliefs that help in increasing knowledge of culturally based health beliefs and practices, which end up informing health care choices (Sagar, 2012). There were similarities and differences identified by HAT in the three families. As the following discussion shows in the various categories of health maintenance, health protection, and health restoration, the three families made their choices based on their current conditions and their upbringing (Voda, 2014). Connection to the extended family and practicing different health-related activities happen without an elaborate health intention. However, the families, upon request, can attach the meaning of their actions to their heritage. The principles of frugality, relationships, trust, self-reliance, and creativeness expressed in the various health choices made by the three families were all due to their backgrounds (Saver, 2014).
Overall, health maintenance was dictated mostly by ethnic background, which tended to affect customs that influenced beliefs, and practices about individual health care. From my family’s perspective, health protection comes through prevention, especially in proper hygiene and sanitation, as well as constant education about emerging health problems. The Italian family I interviewed shared the same concepts of health maintenance. However, the African-American family’s response was different. Its health maintenance tradition is to consider immunizations when available and remain prayerful. It also relies on close family connections as a learning experience, which ends up promoting preventive strategies.
The Italian family tends to consume more processed foods than organic foods or fresh fruits and vegetables. The family freezes food most of the time, and most meals are light. The family life focuses mainly on informed knowledge about Italian traditions, as well as social expectations as Americans. The family is keen to identify with its neighbors and friends. Italian traditions are practiced on specified days, according to known holidays. The principle of moderation is used as a strategy for avoiding upsets and negative reactions to cosmetics, soaps, and other utilities used. The family also enjoys massages and swimming every month to keep fit. Sometimes, there is jogging in the morning to keep fit.
Closeness to the extended family was significant in the African-American family, but the family did not rely on them for making daily life choices. The health choices were mainly dependent on their upbringing. The family did not actively exercise to keep fit. Meanwhile, the Latvian family expressed the habit of exercising through active participation in sports in their church activities as part of compliance with their religious commitments. Their health maintenance choices were mostly influenced by their religious teachings and membership (Clarck, 2002).
A majority of modern African-Americans with a direct heritage in Africa combine their extended family relationships with their independence as families living in the United States. The interviewed family was not an exception. The interview showed that the African-American family prefers to use bottled water to tap water. It also maintains good relationships with the members of the extended family because there is a belief in jealousy and hates being capable of causing health misfortunes. The family also protects itself using mosquito nets, a practice insisted by parents; it could be attributed to health conditions in its native home in Africa. The Latvian family expressed health protection strategies through belief in immunization and following government-sanctioned practices of appropriate health care. The family used the traditional ways of washing utensils by hand, insisting on manual labor as a religious virtue and a way of avoiding contact with unnecessary chemicals that can harm health. Also, there was a conscious desire to avoid excessive sugar as one of the parents in the family had a diabetic condition. The family did not want to suffer the same fate. The decisions taken towards the health protection of the Latvian family came from its close interaction with members of the extended family and upbringing. The beliefs against automated utensil cleaning were one of the manifestations of many decisions that the family would take for religious or health concerns, which arose out of its commitment to its extended family. The family was keen to show that it connected to its heritage.
On the other hand, the Italian family invested in a water purification system in the house and had a dishwashing machine. It expressed limited concern about its ways of living that would conflict with the expectations of the extended family. The family also often ate out in restaurants and bought fast foods, mainly pizza. The African-American family ate out but mainly preferred vegetarian diets as a way of boosting immunity and preventing diseases. The Latvian family rarely ate out and mostly cooked traditional Latvian meals at home. The family believed that the homemade foods were healthy, as they helped in preventing lifestyle diseases.
Notably, the African-American family attends a cleansing ceremony in Africa when visiting parents. The practice is supposed to keep diseases at bay and act as a barrier against bad omens that could be cast by jealous relatives.
The African-American family relies much on home remedies for healing and dealing with pain or injuries. The Italian family relies mostly on health care by professionals, visiting health centers whenever one gets a cough or any other ailment is common. The Latvian family has characteristics that are similar to the African-American family, often focusing on home remedies and herbs before resorting to health facilities or professionals for assistance. The main items used as home remedies are honey, milk, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon, which are used in various ways like applying or mixing with food to improve the immune system. Often, the Latvian family relies on assistance from members of the extended family to come up with the right ingredients. The family has several ready-made remedies for tackling flu, headache, toothaches, and stomachaches.
Keeping warm is very important for a family member who is sick in an African-American family. Besides, during sickness, members are encouraged to take traditional tea mixed with lemongrass leaves to manage their body temperatures. The family follows this remedy as a tradition passed on by parents. At home, the Italian family will also resort to keeping patients warm and prefer suspending any activity to calm the body and await medical help. The family prefers to use painkillers procured from over-the-counter pharmacies when facing mild pains. Under the same circumstances, the Latvian family will mostly pray for the sick person and keep them warm. When choosing to go to the hospital, the Italian family will go to any hospital while the Latvian family will choose a missionary or church-based hospital when it is available. The African-American family mainly picks hospitals based on the expected cost of treatment. All three families have no problems with medical insurance and have substantial health coverage policies.
Clarck, C. C. (2002). Health promotion in communities: Holistic and wellness approaches. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Sagar, P. L. (2012). Transcultural nursing theory and models: Application in nursing education, practice, and administration. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Saver, C. (2014). Cultural competency benefits patients, therapists. Nursing, 37, 6-9.
Voda, S. (2014). Improving diabetes education of minority-group members. Nursing, 38(7), 12-13.