Intercultural nursing is defined as the formal area of study and practice that focuses on a comparative analysis of different cultures and subcultures in the world, with respect to cultural care, health and illness beliefs, values, and practices with the goal of using this knowledge to provide culture-specific and cultural-universal care to people. It is also known as trans-cultural nursing.
This paper tends to communicate information and to compare cultural beliefs and practices about health care.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, more than one-quarter (28.6%) of the US population is estimated to consist of people from culturally diverse groups. People of minority have been predicted to be the majority in 53 out of the 100 largest cities at that time. Also, future projections are for a continued increase in the number of legal and illegal immigrants and refugees coming in to this country. Therefore, in the immediate years to come, the major growth in the US population and in the workplace will come from the ranks of historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. By 2080, people belonging to cultural subgroups will account for more than half (51%) of the US total population. If the present demographic trends continues, the racial and ethnic composition of the United States will be 23.4% Hispanics, 14.7% blacks, and 12% Asian and others (Santiago, 1995).
In order to keep pace with a society that is increasingly more culturally diverse, nurses will need to have a sound knowledge of the cultural values and beliefs of specific ethnic groups as well as being aware of the individual practices and preferences. In the past, healthcare providers have experienced difficulties in caring for clients whose cultural beliefs, about health and illness, vary considerably among cultural groups. Lack of cultural sensitivity by healthcare professionals has resulted in wastage of millions of dollars every year. Certain underrepresented groups are beginning to demand culturally relevant health care that respects their cultural rights and incorporates their specific beliefs and practices into the delivery of care (Abusharaf, 2001).
The need for nurses to assess the established customs that influence the behavior is attempting to change. The implications of cultural heritage are sometimes difficult to detect in this pluralistic society. In order to make the teaching process competent, assessment should be such that it determines health values, beliefs, and practices. It should be kept in mind that belonging to an ethnic group does not always mean a person who follows all of the traditions or customs of hi/ her own group. Given that culture affects the ways in which someone perceives a health problem and understands its course and possible treatments options. It is essential to carry out a thorough assessment prior to establishing a plan of action for long-term behavioral change.
Readiness to learn must also be assessed from the standpoint of a person's culture because this factor is a key element in cross-cultural education. Patients and their families, for instance, may believe that behavior is context ...