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Understanding the family patterns of a patient as well as their cultural background is very crucial in providing them with health care. This is because knowledge about the patient’s kinship increases understanding between the patient and the medical staff, the kind of problem the patient has as well as the type of medication that will suit him/her.
Usually, medical personnel who are culturally competent generate trust and credibility amongst their patients since they understand the kinship patterns and cultural background of the patient. They therefore use appropriate language and exhibit respect to various attributes of the patient’s culture such as privacy and confidentiality (Bonder, 2001).
With the knowledge on patient’s kinship, a doctor will understand how the patient views the treatment process; since kinship is the reason why patients from different cultures view the causes of illness from different angles such as due to nature, improper diet, will of God for a certain displeasing acts, or due to spiritual imbalance and so on (Talbott, 2005).
Depending on the kinship of a patient, the size and even the color of the form of dosage prescribed is important. For instance, Cambodians associate the size of the pills with potency, i.e. a large pill could mean a full dose. There is an erroneous Western belief which also associates the number of mgs of a pill to mean strength of the medication. The Chinese view Western medicine as too strong to complete the dosage. With this kind of understanding, the doctors can determine the best ways to issue medication.
Another way in which the understanding of kinship can aid healthcare is in information dissemination. In Arab cultures, a family member acts as an ‘agent’ who gets the information from the doctor and then relays it to the patient. The Latino culture, a mother is a very important health player in the family since she determines when a member is to receive medication, while the male head issues permission for the same. In some other cultures, one or more reliable persons must issue the consent for a member to seek medical care (Bonder 2001).
- Talbott, W J. Which Rights Should Be Universal? New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Internet resource.
- Bonder, Nilton. Our Immoral Soul: A Manifesto of Spiritual Disobedience. Boston: Shambhala, 2001. Print.