Cultural Aspects of Family

Class Notes:

Cultural Aspects of Family

Culture (Falicov, 1988)

• A set of shared world views and adaptive behaviors derived from simultaneous membership in a variety of contexts

o nationality & ethnicity o religious background o political leanings

o geographic setting, etc.

Broad definition of culture

• Ethnographic variables

• Nationality, ethnicity, language, religion

• Demographic variables

• Age, gender, place of residence

• Status variables

o social, economic, education

• Affiliation variables

• Formal & informal group memberships

Why the focus on culture in nursing?

“Clients have a right to have their sociocultural backgrounds understood in the same way that they expect their physical and psychological needs to be recognized and understood.” – Leininger (1995)

Lack of cultural insight can result in:

• Poor communication.

• Interpersonal tension.

• Inability to work effectively with others.

• Poor assessment of health problems & remedies.

Cultural dissimilarity can lead to incongruent:

• Goal expectations.

• Rapport.

• Communication styles.

• Client acceptance of ideas or recommendations.

Ethnicity (more focused than culture)

• A common ancestry

• Sense of “peoplehood”

• Group identity

• Shared social & cultural history

• Shared values & customs

2008 Texas statistics (estimates) ¹

• Black persons (11.9%)

• Non-Hispanic white persons (47.4%)

• Hispanic/Latino origin persons (36.5%)

• Persons reporting 2 or more races (1.3%)

• Asian persons (3.5%)

• American Indian/Native Alaskan persons (0.8%)

• Native Pacific Islander persons (0.1%)

• White persons (82.4%)


• Biological variation

• Physical characteristics


Remember, race can vary in terms of ethnicity & culture. There is also great variation within

ethnic groups.


• Labeling

• Generalizing

• Lack of recognition of individual differences

• To avoid stereotyping, remember “norms” are a clue to family background.

• These culturally derived patterns need to be verified with assessment for each family.

The “traditionalist fallacy” (Tripp-Reimer & Lauer, 1987)

• Clients may not want traditional beliefs and customs incorporated into their care if alternative approaches are acceptable.

• Ethnic clients may not wish to remain unassimilated.

Acculturation (two-way)

• Internalization of the dominant culture’s norms and values

• Dominant culture also influenced by exposure to the ethnic or subcultural groups within its boundaries.

Assimilation (one way)

• One culture absorbed into the dominant culture

• Minority culture may totally be extinguished.


• Participation in two cultural systems

• Requires two sets of behavior & ways of thinking

• An important adaptive strategy

Cultural relativism

• Perspective that cultures are neither inferior nor superior to one another

• No single scale for measuring the value of a culture

• Customs, beliefs, & practices must be judged or understood relative to context.

Cultural imposition

• Belief that one’s cultural beliefs and practices are superior and proper

• Force own values, beliefs, and practices on others

Focus areas for cultural assessment

• Family’s self-identified ethnic background

• Degree of acculturation

• Languages spoken, particularly in home

• Family’s religion or spiritual beliefs

• Ethnic group affiliation

• Dietary habits & dress

• Household décor

• Customs & beliefs about life transitions

• Beliefs about health & health problems

• Use of traditional healing methods

As you view the assigned movie for this week, apply the content from this lecture when you assess the movie family’s culture. Be sure to recognize how your assessment would affect your nursing interactions with this family. Are you more aware of cultural issues that you might not have noticed prior to this week’s discussion and readings?

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