This book describes key socio-economic aspects of the Hispanic culture and lists resources to expand your knowledge and help you provide culturally appropriate health services. It explains the Hispanic?s perspective regarding disease, the role of the family in the disease process, and cultural values. It also covers how your own bias and prejudice can affect the outcome of your services or programs. Understanding these factors can not only help you provide effective and cost efficient high quality services but can also improve your client?s quality of life and ultimately reduce health disparities.
This book is ideal for students or professionals in health care related fields that are responsible for providing health services or administering health related programs (nurses, medical students, social workers, physical therapist, and administrators) to a population that includes Hispanics patients.
Transcultural health care is providing culturally specific health care services. That is, providing evidence-based medicine while respecting people s cultural values, beliefs, and practices (Cultural Diversity 2012a). While the definition may seem logical, easy and feasible, sometimes it is not easy to do. A long time ago, during the last year of medical school, I was sent to an Amerindians village or communa. Three of us were supposed to vaccinate the children at a general assembly room. Our arrival had been previously announced through a communication of the Health Department. However, when we arrived no one was there. We soon discovered that the children of all working mothers were in a Maternal House (a nursery by our standards) where older women who could not work the fields anymore took care of all the children in the village.
As foreigners , we were not allowed to enter the Maternal House unless we had the elder s blessing. We went to one of the elders and told him we had medicines, vitamins, and vaccines that the children needed free of charge. He said that what he really needed were two latrines, one for the Maternal House and another one for the assembly room. He was quite specific on the type he wanted. After a heated discussion on priorities, we realized that the latrines were our only way to the children. Facing our failure, we went back to our directors and arranged for the latrines (not an easy task). Two months later, we were allowed to enter the Maternal House. This was a wakeup call that showed how important it was to learn and respect other people s customs when providing healthcare. From there on, each cross-cultural encounter has been a source of information on the person s culture allowing for better healthcare.
The information provided here will allow you to have a basic understanding of the Hispanic culture. It is an overview of health care issues in a Hispanic cultural context. Be aware that this information may not be true to every Hispanic, as you will learn about the diversity that exists within this ethnicity. We hope that this information can motivate you to continue learning and providing culturally appropriate care to the best of your ability.