Date of Award

Spring 1983

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Nursing theorists depict persons as whole beings who are composed of physiological, psychological, spiritual, and cultural components. With this view of human beings, an individual's culture is an integral and essential component in providing holistic and comprehensive understanding of individuals. The importance of recognizing, knowing, and understanding cultural influences has relevance for the professional nurse. Individual and group behavior reflects the norms and values of a particular culture. Additionally, an individual's cultural orientation will influence a person's perception and meaning of health and illness, the appropriate exhibition of behaviors that are associated with health and illness, the treatment methods the individual considers appropriate, and response to treatment. (Without an understanding about the cultural influences of an individual, professional nurses may make broad judgments and interpretations about their clients, and may try to impose their own beliefs and values upon their clients. Also, to ignore such cultural differences may seriously interfere with the professional nurse's ability to help the client, and can limit clients' progress toward their culturally defined state of health. However, when professional nurses are able to identify and respond to individuals' cultural beliefs and values, they will be able to provide care that is congruent with the clients' life style, and will be able to foster the clients' progress toward health Since the professional nurse can no longer rely on vague hunches, intuitive guesses, or trial-and-error approaches to help people from diverse cultures with their health needs and problems, a systematic review of the literature of the Spanish-speaking, Black, and Jewish cultures will help professional nurses who function in any health care setting to understand multicultural clashes related to transcultural care problems. This essay describes the influence of the Spanish-speaking, Black, and Jewish cultures upon their definition of health and illness, their folk health beliefs and practices, health problems that are unique to these cultural groups, their responses to traditional health care, and the implications for professional nursing in providing nursing care to clients from these three cultural groups. A new nursing diagnosis with defining characteristics is proposed.



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