Chronic disease, illness, and injury affect people of all race, sex, gender, income, and religion. Understanding the cultural differences that may impact disease risk and treatment compliance can better help the healthcare professional offer quality patient-centered care that results in the best outcomes. In today’s post, we will review some common ways that healthcare facilities overlook cultural competence in an effort to help bring awareness to practitioners who can make a difference in their patients’ lives.
At HR Pharmaceuticals, we have been creating medical products for use around the world for nearly 85 years. Because our products are not used by any one culture, we work hard to create products that are inclusive of all cultures and allow all people to receive the comfort during medical care that they deserve without compromising their beliefs. All of our products are kosher and don’t contain ingredients that are prohibited by any cultural practice or belief. We believe that this helps ensure all medical patients around the world have a universal lubricant they can trust.
One of the biggest defining features of culture is the food that is consumed in normal diets. For many cultures, the food that is made and eaten is based on the availability of resources and tradition. However, for some cultures, there are religious or cultural dietary restrictions. For instance, most Buddhists are vegetarian, a majority of Muslims are halal, and many people are kosher. For those with certain beliefs or who subscribe to particular diets including vegans or vegetarians. While vegetarians, for the most part, can adapt to a non-vegetarian menu and choose meat-free options, halal and kosher diets count on more than just the foods that are consumed, but also the conditions under which the food is prepared and how it is served. When the diet of a patient cannot be offered, they may be less inclined to eat, which significantly impedes healing as well as reduces the trust the patient has in the healthcare facility. It is important to assess the needs of patients to ensure maximal nourishment.
Medical Treatments and Medications
Jehovah’s Witness and other religions prohibit some medical treatments including blood transfusions. Certain pharmaceuticals are prohibited by certain religious beliefs. For instance, 1.8 billion people (or 24.1% of the world’s population) are Muslim. According to Shariah, individuals should seek advice from their religious scholars, imam prior to receiving any sort of medical intervention and the list of prohibited pharmaceuticals includes anything that contains porcine, pork, bovine, alcohol, ethanol, or other animal products. This means that the Halal patient may refuse nasal sprays, pancreatic enzymes, and insulin. For more information on halal approved medications, read here. Islam also dictates that men should not care for women and vice versa, so some medical treatments may be refused based solely on the sex of the medical practitioners.
For those who practice their religion, certain prayers, rituals, or rights may be preferred to be adhered to, regardless of whether or not they are in the hospital. For instance, Muslims typically adhere to their prayer ritual, Jewish practitioners practice fasting according to religious doctrine, and Catholics practice last rights. Understanding these principals will allow you to better communicate with your patients as provide more culturally competent care.
Literacy and Patient Education
In the United States, all printed patient education materials should be presented at a sixth-grade level. However, this does not mean that the medical professional should simply print out materials and trust that the patient has read and understands the content. Healthcare professionals should not only follow-up but should be aware enough to present the information in a manner that the patient (and their support person) understand.
When educating patients, it is important to understand that literacy is not simply the ability to read and write in the same language in which the information is provided, but also the ability to comprehend information in general. Across cultures, some things do not have the same meaning or importance as in other cultures. For instance, hygiene, medication reliance, and medical interventions are sometimes not even valued in non-Western cultures where the preferred practice is “alternative” medicine or a holistic, non-medical approach. When the medical practitioner and patient are not speaking the cultural language, agreeing on a treatment plan may be difficult.
Language and Communication
The best care, in any setting, derives from the ability to effectively communicate. Especially in the world of healthcare, where medical jargon is seemingly a second language to most people and difficult to understand anyway, it is critical to communicate in the native language of both speakers. Accurate diagnosis and treatment depend on accurate patient history and evaluation based on the patient’s questions. Effective treatment hinges on effective patient education and informed consent of interventions and prescriptions to be provided.
The best way to overcome language barriers and achieve optimal communication with people across other cultures or languages is to use a medical interpreter. Medical interpreters are not only bilingual but have been specially trained to interpret medical jargon and explain the information in culturally appropriate laymen’s terms. For those with hearing or visual impairments, other methods of communication should be used. For those with cognitive deficits, although a care provider or next of kin should be involved in the communication, the conversation should still be directed at the patient.
As we discussed with the diet and medical treatment restrictions among various cultures, these restrictions overflow into the products used. As we discussed with kosher and halal practice, it involves much more than just the food itself and has a lot to do with products used and how they are used. Many medical products are made in plants with other medical products, so even though one product may be kosher by ingredient, the resources and production methods used may not be. Those who subscribe to kosher living will only use kosher products, medications, and consumables.
At HR Pharmaceuticals, we understand the importance of retaining cultural practices in medical care. We create our products to be kosher and to meet all cultural expectations to reduce the refusal of medical interventions that require medical lubricant as a part of the procedure. When you are communicating with your patients about their medical care, mentioning that you are using kosher products like Surgilube® Surgical Lubricant will help instill trust in your practice and your institution as well as increase compliance with care.
At HR Pharmaceuticals, we are proud to state that we create culturally-friendly products that are used throughout the world in various settings. Our products are all kosher, latex-free, and water-soluble so that our products are safe for use on nearly every patient with a variety of concerns considered, including cultural compliance, allergies, and safe use with other products and medications. For your kosher medical lubricant, visit our online medical supply shop to order your stock today!