How Does Culture Affect Health And Wellness?

Jul 25

How Does Culture Affect Health And Wellness?

How does culture affect health and wellness? Our culture dramatically influences our knowledge of health education. This is specifically important considering the diversity of cultural groups and ethnic populations all around the world. And each of these cultures has its own health beliefs and treatment methods. And your culture influences how you think and your health issues. For instance, some people believe that it’s best to have a family dentist, while other opt for home remedy and traditional methods for dental health care. Your cultural beliefs affect how you decide in choosing health care providers, treatment, and medicine to take.



But First, What is Culture?

cultural diversity By definition, culture is the literacy and characteristics of a particular group of people, mostly with their own beliefs and faith regarding religion, cuisine, language, social habits, and many more. Hence, people can describe it as developing a group identity brought up by a unique social system.

Here are some of the essential facts about culture:

  • it evolves through time and is dynamic
  • culture is taught and learned by generations
  • culture is shared among a group of people who falls under the same name and understanding
  • it is also identified through symbols such as gender, language, behavior, and music
  • integrated on an individuals life in all aspects

Moreover, what’s interesting about culture is its diversity. Culture isn’t just defined by one ethnicity or language. It’s all about several factors that grow their influence on its members.

Below are the common factors that describe a culture, but note that this is just a tiny part of a larger scale:

  • education
  • gender
  • upbringing
  • age
  • socio-economic class
  • religion
  • spiritual beliefs
  • ethnicity
  • language
  • geographic origin
  • sexual orientation
  • history

Below are some of the most prominent cultural groups mainly found in the U.S.

  1. Asian-Americans
  2. Hispanic Americans
  3. Pacific Islanders
  4. African-Americans
  5. Native Americans

These classifications share the same practices, traditions, and language culturally.



Effect of Culture On Health and Wellness

Additionally, culture varies in terms of communication. They are very particular in using words and terminologies regarding decision-making regarding physical health, health information, care provider, healthcare practices, and interventions.

But the thing is health literacy needs communication and shared understanding among families, patients, and health care staff and providers. The output of the health care method and the content are influenced by the health literacy of the cultural group.

Cultural beliefs affect health and wellness through the information that it provides for its people. Patients then use the data forwarded to families and family members to come to a solid understanding of their health status. Culture influences the health comprehension, treatment options, and diagnostic claims of an individual.

It’s a good thing that the U.S. acknowledges these differences among different cultures. Because of this, organizations such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services emphasized the importance of providing “available easily understood” health care materials. To be culturally responsive, these materials should come in the languages of the targeted cultures.

Impact of Cultures on Health

Technically, health is considered a cultural concept because our health is regarded by our experiences in life, as per the cultural class we belong to.

Listed below are the things that cultures help define:

  • Culture influences health options for an individual.
  • Patients may have different beliefs when it comes to the cause of their illness.
  • Family members’ opinions weigh into the final decision of the decision-maker.
  • Stigmatizing particular diseases and illnesses- for example, some cultures believe that seeing a psychiatrist means the patient is “crazy.”
  • Health promotion practices and activities are also affected. For instance, Canadians believe that strong women are healthy and desirable.
  • The experience with pain and illness encounters have differences as well. In some cultures, stoicism is a practice that should be considered in the face of severe pain. At the same time, others believe that a person should express pain no matter how mild or painful it may be.
  • Culture influences health choices for a person. This includes choosing the correct physician, which doctors to run to, the professionals to trust, and the primary doctor to believe in.
  • How a patient communicates with his healthcare provider is also influenced. In some cultures, making direct eye contact is a sign of respect.
  • Sometimes, a patient will also depend on his cultural beliefs to comply with the treatment and medication. While this is usually his discretion, his family and even his extended family would interfere with his decisions.

Other Things that Culture Affect

  • acceptance of the doctors’ diagnosis
  • how a person accepts preventative healthcare methods such as vaccines, screening tests, birth control, prenatal care
  • perceiving how a person can handle a specific disease
  • perception of who should be involved in death and dying
  • use of communication practices like making eye contact with the person talking to
  • disposition in sharing and explaining symptoms to health care providers
  • involvement of family dynamics, including gender roles, age, support patterns, and the likes
  • belief in age-related components such as the health of younger individuals vs. older adults

Sadly, the cultures’ access to health resources within the community is usually restricted. Most poor communities have limited access to healthcare needs for adults and children.



How Doctors Respond

Doctors can most likely interact with their patients better if they understand their beliefs, cultural differences, and practices. Let us discuss how a healthcare professional should handle patients who were firmly influenced by their respective cultures.

culture affect health choicesAvoid comparing your personal beliefs with your patients’ cultural convictions. If there is any conflict between the two of you, try to seek help from colleagues.

Listen and respect their perceptions about health. You may ask them how they would like to be treated and work your way from there.


If needed, ask for an interpreter. This will prevent misunderstandings and, most importantly, misdiagnosis. As suggested by the expert team of Kellyville Family Dental clinic, you must understand what your patient is going through.

Make sure that the patient understands their health condition correctly.

Acknowledge their belief in alternative healing methods like holistic therapies and such.

When needed, make a negotiation on how the treatment should proceed without hurting their perceptions.









How Culture Influences Health (

Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion (

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