Assessing family values

When I was working as a student nurse, there was a young Asian woman who needed blood transfusion. Her nurse sought her permission to go ahead with the transfusion but the oldest male family member was against the idea. The nurse argued that the consent of the patient is what mattered and an argument arose between the provider and the family members. The provider did not seem to value the cultural practices of the Asian people. The oldest male family member is the decision maker and spokesperson of the family according to the Asian culture.

In my view, comparing the family values with the Dominant American cultural values is like imposing the American cultural values on people.  All cultures have their own values and beliefs, which should be respected even in health care. Using the American cultural values as the basis of assessing other cultures is ideally wrong since all cultures are different and dominancy cannot change this. The dominancy of the American culture does not mean that all other cultures are irrelevant. Cultural values should not be compared because none of the culture is good compared to another. Every culture is good in the eyes of those who belief and practice its values.

Family values should be assessed by researching and understanding the cultural values and beliefs of the family.  Health providers should not impose their cultural beliefs on patients not from their culture. They should integrate the cultural beliefs of the patient in the provision of health care. Understanding the family’s cultural beliefs is paramount in good health provision.

 

Response to Rachael Adams 

Great ideas Rachael, I also do not agree that assessing a family’s values should be based on a comparison between the American cultural values and the family’s values.  Cultures are different, with very different beliefs and ways of life. In addition, cultures value different things.  I agree with you that to assess family values, it is ideal to understand the family’s culture. This involves understanding the family’s beliefs, values, and ways of communication, cultural customs and religious practices.

Most of the cultures assimilate in to the American culture; the value sets between cultures are different. One culture cannot be used as a basis to explain and assess another culture. As a nurse, one should research on the cultural values and beliefs of the patient. In addition, one should not underestimate the value of the cultural customs of the patient by assuming that all cultures are similar.

Response to Cassandra Appell 

Great work Cassandra, the provider you currently work with does not seem to value the cultural values and beliefs of other people rather than his own.  He think homeopathic is a joke and thus seems to impose this on others. I think some cultures do value homeopathic and if the provider attends a patient from such a culture, he would not consider the beliefs of the patient. This in my view is wrong. It is important to consider the values and beliefs of the patient no matter how one feels about the certain beliefs.

I agree we are all entitled to our cultural values and beliefs. The dominancy of the American culture does not mean that all other cultures are irrelevant. Cultural values should not be compared because none of the culture is good compared to another. Every culture is good in the eyes of those who belief and practice its values.

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