Diversity, Healing, and Health Care

Greetings and Introductions

Religious Beliefs and Healing

Cohort Life Events

Scenarios & Definitions

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Program Information & Bibliography.

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Useful definitions
Greetings and introductions
Cohort life events
Scenarios: The following scenarios are presented to offer functional activities in learning to find information within Diversity, Healing, and Health Care. There is a brief scenario for each content areas.

 Scenario 1 for Greetings and introductions: You know that your patient will improve her medication and/or exercise regime if she has support from her family. You are looking for information about introducing ideas to the family, and negotiating an improvement in the follow through of your patient's health regime. Check the Greetings and Introduction section for differences in negotiating health care needs with patients and families.

Scenario 2 for Religions: Other health care providers have told you that your patient has some specific eating habits that may effect nutrition, and impact other health care issues. The person providing the information thinks it may have something to do with the patient's religious beliefs, but has no further information. You will need to discuss the problems that nutrition is causing with the patient and family. Check the Religions section to find information about the connection between dietary and religious beliefs.

Scenario 3 for Cohort life events: You suspect that some life events may be affecting your 80-year-old patient related to cooperation with other health care workers. Check the Cohort Life Events section for information that will help you explain this to the other health care workers.

Use the banner at the top of this page to go to specific content areas.

Explanations of groupings and headings in Greetings, Religions, and Cohort Life Events.

Language: describes the most common language or languages of that cultural group.
Religions: describes the most common religions of that cultural group, and whether there is a nationally recognized or state religion.
Negotiation: describes the basis and common negotiation styles or unit of decision making of that culture.
Introductions: describes expectations and behaviors common when people of that culture meet or are introduced to each other, use of first and last names, nicknames, and common body language when greeting others.
Time: describes the customary use of time and punctuality. Industrial cultures tend to be much more aware of the use of clock time. Other cultures use different indicators for appropriately meeting and following time schedules.
Gestures: describes common gestures and their meanings. Some common U.S. gestures are considered vulgar in other cultures. Ways to beckon, wave, or call out to people vary, as do the responses when the goal is to initiate interaction with your patient.
Miscellaneous: Clinicians and patients who contributed to this information often had items of importance that didn't fit other headings. Those items are included here. As this program develops, other categories may be developed based on common contributions to the 'miscellaneous' category.
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General beliefs: This is not an attempt to explain philosophies or dogmas, but only to very briefly provide background which will contribute to the clinician's understanding of a religious belief.
Beliefs about illness and disease: describes common or general beliefs within a religion related to the origins and causes of disease; who gets sick and why sickness occurs.
Beliefs about disability: describes how disability is viewed within the religion. Some religions believe that suffering is inevitable, and part of living; others believe that it is related to evil of the person or from outside, or can be cured through behavior changes of the person or from outside.
Beliefs about healing practices: describes common religious healing practices such as prayer, meditation, penance or sacrifice.
Beliefs related to food and health: describes how food, fasting, and curing properties are viewed by the religion.
Beliefs related to death and dying: describes important end of life beliefs that should be observed by clinicians treating frail elders or terminally ill patients.
Holy days: describes the religious holy days that relate to some of the rituals of healing and use of food.
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Ethnic Cohorts: This section is based on a study by faculty at the Stanford Geriatric Education Center, and provides a list of historical events based on ethnic experiences that are common to many ethnic elders within the groups described. This information comes from Cohort Analysis as a tool in ethnogeriatrics: Historical profiles of elders from eight ethnic populations in the United States, by Gwen Yeo, Nancy Hikoyeda, Melen McBride, Soo-Young Chin, Mary Edmonds, and Levanne Hendrix (1999); Stanford Geriatric Education Center working paper series, number 12. This paper and other ethnogeriatric papers are available for purchase from the Stanford Geriatric Education Center.
Useful definitions:


Cultural competence






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.....Diversity, Healing and Health Care is designed to provide easy access to diversity information focused on content that may be helpful to clinicians and other healthcare. The information in this web-based program is generalizations. It would be rare to find an individual who fit all the content in a specific area.
....A generalization is intended as a starting point, showing common trends or patterns of beliefs within groups of people. But groups do not have the same qualities as each individual in the group. Individuals accept and reject components that are trends to the group. Therefore, these are generalizations - starting points in better understanding related to the cultural beliefs about an individual patient.
.....The information in this program is not intended to be viewed as stereotyping. Stereotypes are an end of thought processes, an attempt to fit individuals into small boxes of behaviors and pertain to negative attitudes that focus on ethnocentric beliefs. Stereotyping is usually a product of ethnocentrism: A focus on one's own culture to the exclusion of sensitivity to other cultures. "Belief that one's own cultural view is the only correct view" (Yeo, 1999, p. 3). Yeo also provides useful definitions of the following terms:
Cultural competence: This definition can be generalized to all age groups. This quote is taken from the ethnogeriatric writings of Dr. Gwen Yeo. " Effective care for older patients from diverse cultural backgrounds, including at least the demonstrated integration of: 1) population-specific health-related cultural values; 2) disease incidence, prevalence or mortality rates; and 3) population-specific treatment outcomes" (Yeo, p. 3).
Culture: "The way of life of a population or part of a population, including the sharing of knowledge, beliefs, experiences, behaviors, language, and skills among a given group. Used most often with reference to different societies or national origins; subcultures can also reflect differences by geographic region or other subgroups within a larger society" (Yeo, p. 2).
Ethnicity: "Usually identifies differences based on culture, but is also sometimes popularly used to denote racial or religious differences" (Yeo, p. 2).
Race: "Implies a category based on physical or biological characteristics, now considered by many anthropologists to be an obsolete concept because of difficulty classifying populations with widespread genetic diversity" (Yeo, p.2).
References to the work of Dr. Gwen Yeo are taken from G. Yeo (Ed.)(1999) Core curriculum in ethnogeriatrics. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford Geriatric Education Center. Information on ordering this paper is available at SGEC website.
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