The Hispanic culture and its influences continues to grow in the United States. As a demographic, Hispanics also continues to grow, thus increasing the likelihood that a nurse will encounter this culture and demographic in her nursing practice. It is also important to recognize that there are multiple groups in “Hispanic.” The group is also often referred to as “Latino.” This paper will discuss the cultural competencies that a nurse should have when dealing with this demographic and its peoples.
It is important to recognize what one believes that health actually is. For the Hispanic culture, the definition of health involves God and His influence on a person. They believe that God gifts a person with good health; as a gift, it must be respected. As a result, health prevention practices often involve prayer and religious rituals. These must be respected; however, it is also important to educate Hispanics about other types of health prevention practices. Because of health’s relationship with God, some Hispanics may naturally therefore view illness as a loss of favor with God. As a result, increased prayers are offered and religious rituals often accompany any sort of medical treatments. It must be noted that the majority of these are relatively safe; however, if the patient is given any type of herbal supplement as part of the ritual, it is important to recognize that these may have (and many do) active ingredients that may interfere with the medications the patient is currently on. As a result, the family should be asked to restrain from these until the physician is made aware. It remains important that the family is dealt with in a respectful manner and that they receive proper education with regards to why this part of their ritual is not allowed (Juckett, 2013).
The health practices of Hispanics and Latinos are wide and varied. Most of these derive from the general cultural practices. It is important to recognize, particularly when using a family member as a translator that a male cannot discuss anything related to sexual organs with a female member; it is not considered culturally acceptable. As a result, if requiring a family member as a translator, it is best to use a female for a female patient. Furthermore, the males should be asked to leave the room. This is also important when asking another person to translate. If a health care provider of the same sex is available, this is preferred over the opposite sex.
It is also crucial to remember that Hispanics and Latinos suffer from certain diseases at a higher rate of incidence and prevalence than do their white counterparts. These diseases include obesity (particularly central obesity), Type II diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. As a result, a proper assessment should focus on these conditions and how to prevent the conditions for the patient. These conditions should be discussed in depth with the patient, particularly the increased risk for it and how this impacts his or her health. Furthermore, it must be remembered that in traditional Hispanic homes, it is the role of the mother to cook and to feed the other family members. As such, the mother will likely decide the menu, and therefore the diet, for the entire family. Due to this, if one family member has a greater risk for any of these conditions, the condition and its risks should be discussed with the mother. A child or husband cannot control his or her diet; the mother/wife must be made aware of any specific dietary restrictions (Peterson-Iyer, 2008).
All cultures, and therefore all individuals, are not the same. Rather, in order to provide the highest level of care for a patient, the nurse must work within the cultural confines of the person’s identity. For Hispanics and Latinos, it is important to remember the sexual boundaries and the traditional roles of the genders in the culture. It is also important to understand how disease and therefore health are associated with religious outcomes. As a result, a nurse must be culturally competent in this culture in order to provide a high level of service to its members.