Health care beliefs play a significant role in shaping the delivery of evidence-based health care. Understanding the health care beliefs of different cultural heritages is important to ensure culturally appropriate and effective care. This essay will discuss the health care beliefs of people of Chinese and Guatemalan heritage, and explore any similarities between the two.
People of Chinese heritage have a strong belief in the concept of yin and yang, which is considered to be the balance of opposing forces. They believe that health is achieved when there is a harmonious balance between yin and yang within the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on this belief and aims to restore the balance by using methods such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, and diet therapy (1). TCM also emphasizes the importance of preventing disease by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing self-care (1).
In contrast, people of Guatemalan heritage have a strong belief in spiritual and supernatural causes of illness. They believe that illness is often caused by divine punishment or the influence of evil spirits. As a result, traditional healers known as “curanderos” play a significant role in the health care practices of Guatemalan communities. Curanderos use a combination of traditional herbs, prayers, and rituals to heal the sick (2). In addition to seeking the help of a curandero, many Guatemalans also turn to Western medical practices when necessary.
While there are distinct differences in the health care beliefs of people of Chinese and Guatemalan heritage, there are also some similarities. Both cultures place a strong emphasis on the importance of maintaining harmony and balance for overall health. Chinese and Guatemalan heritages both prioritize holistic approaches to health care, taking into account physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of well-being.
The health care beliefs of these heritages have a significant impact on the delivery of evidence-based health care. For people of Chinese heritage, their beliefs in yin and yang and the importance of maintaining balance can influence their acceptance and adherence to Western medical treatments. Traditional Chinese Medicine practices are often integrated with Western medicine, and health care practitioners need to be aware of the potential interactions and conflicts between the two (3). Additionally, when providing evidence-based health care to individuals of Chinese heritage, health care providers should consider incorporating aspects of TCM that the patient finds important or meaningful.
Similarly, the health care beliefs of people of Guatemalan heritage also impact the delivery of evidence-based care. The reliance on traditional healers such as curanderos highlights the importance of acknowledging and respecting these beliefs in the health care setting. Health care providers need to establish cultural competency and be willing to collaborate with traditional healers when appropriate (4). By recognizing and respecting the beliefs of Guatemalans, health care providers can establish a trusting relationship, facilitating better communication and engagement in evidence-based care.
The cultural beliefs of both Chinese and Guatemalan heritages can also influence health care-seeking behaviors. People of Chinese heritage may be inclined to seek out TCM practitioners first for certain health issues before turning to Western medicine. This may delay receiving evidence-based care, particularly in urgent or emergency situations. Health care providers need to be aware of this tendency and educate patients about the benefits of early intervention and appropriate use of Western medical treatments.
Similarly, Guatemalans may prefer to consult a curandero first, especially for chronic health conditions or spiritual concerns. The use of traditional healing practices can sometimes interfere with evidence-based treatments. Health care providers should strive to educate Guatemalan patients about the importance of integrating traditional practices with evidence-based care, particularly for managing chronic conditions.
In conclusion, the health care beliefs of people of Chinese and Guatemalan heritage have significant implications for the delivery of evidence-based health care. While there are some similarities in their emphasis on holistic approaches and balance, there are also distinctive differences in terms of the specific beliefs and practices within each heritage. Health care providers should strive to be culturally competent and aware of these beliefs to provide culturally appropriate care and ensure effective treatment outcomes. By incorporating patients’ health care beliefs into evidence-based care, providers can enhance patient satisfaction, adherence, and overall health outcomes.
1. Aung E, Donald M, Williams GM. Health beliefs and treatment-seeking behaviours of Chinese-Australians: A qualitative study. BMC Public Health. 2009;9(1):200.
2. Fike D. Ethnomedicine and attitudes towards healthcare in the Napa Valley. Curr Anthropol. 1976;17(2):253-263.
3. Liu J, Gong J, Huang Y, et al. Pattern differentiation in Traditional Chinese Medicine can help define specific indications for Biomedical Therapy in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. J Altern Complement Med. 2016;22(12):994-999.
4. Serafini G, Codding K, Sacchi C. Cultural competency in healthcare: A critical analysis of curricular design and delivery in three clinical psychology programs. Prof Psychol Res Pr. 2008;39(2):204-211.