The American society is a congregation of different cultures of different states. Cultural diversity of the United States has rich history that dates back many centuries. The American society enjoys a number of advantages for having rich and diverse cultural heritage. Despite these advantages, the healthcare sector has had quite a number of challenges when it comes to dealing with patients from some of the minority cultural groups. Some minority cultural groups already have some healing practices and methods that they practice. The healthcare practitioners usually have to integrate these cultural practices with modern practices to meet the expectation of the patient.
Healthcare providers are responsible for the wellbeing of the patients. Different health care givers use varied approaches to achieve this responsibility Practice of healthcare providers at all levels gives a chance for one to interact with people of different faiths. It is, therefore, important to accept the diversity of faith expressions. The philosophy of providing health care differs from one religion to another. The main focus of any healthcare provider is to safeguard the spiritual, mental, and physical health of the patient. Spiritual health is usually very significant during the healing process. Healthcare providers experience a lot of challenges because they have to accept different cultural and religious beliefs from the patients. The patient needs to feel like he/she shares the same beliefs with the healthcare provider. This is because some patients feel that they need to infer God during their healing process. This paper examines cases involving patients from minority backgrounds and seeks to provide a brief analysis into the current state of healthcare with regard to some minority groups. This paper summarizes three belief systems, which include Native American Spirituality, Bahai and Buddhism.
Bahai is named from Baha’u’llah, who was the prophet founder of this religion. It was started in the mid-nineteenth century. There are two beliefs about creation. People believe that the universe is eternal, on the other perspective they believe that individual elements of the universe came into existence on particular moment of life and these elements will stop existing on a particular time. They have a dual perspective on the healing and human health. They believe offering health care is a service that praises God. They believe in divine healing obtained through healing prayers. The Baha’is do not believe in the Christian’s health perspective about the origin of illness in the Garden of Aden by Adam and Eve disobeying God.
Native American faith refers to the beliefs of indigenous tribes in America. Their perspective on healing and health is based on herbal treatment and performing rituals to remove mental and physical illness from human being. In the rituals, they believe in bringing human soul into harmony with nature and the world of spirits.
Buddhism originated from India into South East Asia in the 3rd century. They do not believe in the existence of one God, but rather they believe that the elements of the universe originate from different causes. All life consists of various elements. In Buddhism, health and healing can be grouped into disease of the mind and disease of the body. Disease of the body deals with conventional truth, but disease of the mind deals with the ultimate truth. In their definition, health means freedom from any pain. It gives more choices to care for our lives and gives us a chance for internal development. The major cause of diseases in Buddha’s perspective is defilement. They also belief diseases can be caused by microorganisms. They believe that demons and ghosts can cause diseases too. In healing those ailments caused by ghosts and demons, the sick were required to eat raw flesh and blood. In their faith, one among various elements can be used in treating a particular illness. They also believe in preventive medicine and activities of Eight-Fold Path Practice.
Christians believe that healing and health is an important part of the gospel. They believe that the perfect will of God is that every human being must enjoy divine health. The origin of illness is attributed to sin. They believe that life came to existence through God’s creation. The first man (Adam) and woman (Eve) were blameless and free from illness. They enjoyed perfect health and happiness in the Garden of Eden. They were innocent and in fellowship with God, until they disobeyed God’s will. Due to their disobedience, sickness and physical death fell on the human being. They believe in physical and spiritual illness. According to Christians, prayers can heal both illnesses, but they do not negate seeking medical health.
Different religions believe in different components of healing. In Native American faith rituals, trances and visualizations were critical components in the treatment of the physical and spiritual illnesses. They learnt these things from their elders, shamans and medicine men. Trance meant drumming, dancing and meditating to scare the spirits causing illnesses. There are special prayers conducted by the elders and medicine men in seek divine healing from the gods and spirits for spiritual illness.
Baha’is believe that suffering is a form of test that God gives to his devotee. The critical component in healing process is the long healing prayers revealed by Baha’u’llah. They believe that in suffering their spirits grow and develop. Just as suffering comes from God, so is the healing. They also believe in the physical remedy of the illness. According to them since God gave them Advil they should use it. They believe in seeking for medication from other Baha’is and from the trained doctors as well.
In Buddhism the critical component of healing is the Noble Eight fold path. It prevents all diseases and for physical health all followers are encouraged to take care of their bodies. They support techniques that improve human health unless if it is contrary to Noble Eightfold path (Dufrene 1991).
What is important to Buddhists, when they are treated by a person of a different faith, is their strong belief in meditation. They require a peaceful and a quiet environment for meditation. Buddhism focuses on relief of pain and some have culturally based issues regarding being treated by a person of the opposite sex. Some do not eat meat and animal by-products and, therefore, might decline medications produced from animal product. They expect that after a patient has died the health providers should keep this body still, because it is not devoid of the human spirit immediately (Paonil & Sringernyuang, 2002).
Baha’is believe they are healthier than non Baha’is, they expect health practitioners from who is non Baha’is to respect their beliefs and culture. They condemn use of drugs and other substance, such as alcohol and cigarette smoking, and they do not expect a doctor to be under influence of such substances when treating them (Paonil & Sringernyuang, 2002).
Native American religions do not believe in seeking medical treatment. They believe in rituals and prayers from their elders and medicine men. In the recent past, there has been state intervention reduce deaths resulting from this faith especially on children from curable and preventable diseases. The federal government has been taking legal actions against parents who do not take their children for vaccination. Christian faith believes in healing miracles, which could be either spontaneous or through use of medication and prayers (Hawkins & Haggerty, 2003). They believe God can heal them through a health care provider’s knowledge. According to Christianity, God is the giver of all knowledge as different gifts to different people. Some Christians give the Holy Communion to their patients to wash away the sin that could be the cause of the illness (Fratkin, 1997).
Health care providers, who are able to let go their own beliefs in the interest of the beliefs and practices of the patient, are viewed as competent. The religious traditions on health and healing are complex and long. Since a health care provider deals with people of diverse beliefs and culture, they should help each individual patient and his or her family to interpret how their religious and cultural values relate to a patients stay in the hospital, personal needs, interaction with staff and other patients and their decisions about treatment.