Cultural Health Practices: Evidence-Based Nursing


Cultural health practices entail the traditional and non-professional nursing practices, which encourage the use of plant-derived remedies and a strong belief in supernatural powers to heal patients. Therefore, different cultural health practices affect the type of foods eaten by different communities, the type of health care services available to the community, and even the type of recreational activities practiced by the community (Hendrix, 2005, par. 1).

As a result, these strong beliefs and traditions do influence the health status of different members of a particular community and cultural affiliation. Furthermore, different health-related practices can either result into no major health risks, positive health outcomes, or harmful health consequences on community members (Hendrix, 2005, par. 3).

This essay identifies some examples of cultural health practices inherent among the Native American Indians and African American Communities in the United States. In addition, the essay describes the major similarities between the cultural health praises and the contemporary evidence-based nursing (EBN) practices. Finally, the essay describes different ways in which professional nurses can incorporate cultural health practices in the contemporary nursing environment.

Cultural Health Practices

Most Native Indian Americans have a strong belief in spirituality and healing as part of maintaining good health. Therefore, in the Indian culture, there is a strong linkage between human beings, God, and Nature. As a result, it is common practice to see traditional Indians participating in a healing ceremony and believing in the power of the traditional medicine because most Indians believe that the causes of all illnesses involve an imbalance between the mental, physical, and spiritual conditions of an individual and an external force such as nature, the family, and the clan. Therefore, healing in these communities has a spiritual component that contemporary nursing practices lack (Hendrix, 2005, par. 6).

On the other hand, African Americans have a multifaceted perception of the causes of illnesses. As a result, the tradition of using folk medicines in most African American communities is deep-rooted and, therefore, most African American communities believe in the supernatural powers of different traditional healers who are said to possess in-borne or God-given gifts to heal all types of diseases. Conversely, in most African American communities, a healthy person is said to be in harmony with the external forces that control the body including nature (Hendrix, 2005, par. 9).

However, when an individual experiences instances of ill-health, one must seek the divine intervention of traditional medicine-men and women, who are capable of balancing the disharmony in the sick. In addition, ill-health is categorized into different groups such as natural and spiritual illnesses, each possessing its unique healing procedures and remedies (Hendrix, 2005, par. 13).

Assessment of the Cultural Health Practices relative to Evidence-based Nursing Practice

From the discussions above, it is notable that there are several similarities between cultural healing practices and contemporary nursing practices. That is, there is a certain degree of confidentiality, which exists between the healer and the patient. Therefore, patients trust the diagnosis made by the healers and doctors and as a result, the patient believes in the medical interventions and decisions made by the healers and doctors (Hendrix, 2005, par. 13).

However, contrary to the contemporary evidence-based nursing (EBN) practices, which require that the doctor must distinguish between strong and weak diagnostic evidence to make a sound clinical decision, the cultural health practices do not compel a healer to use diagnostic evidence before administering medical remedies (Hendrix, 2005, par. 16; DiCenso et al., 2005, p. 21).

In addition, evidence-based nursing practices insist that the nurses should understand the clinical results and be able to strike a balance between the outcomes and risks involved in administering a certain medical intervention (DiCenso et al., 2005, p. 23). However, in traditional health practices, patients have a strong faith in the medical results generated by the healer because the medicine-men and women are said to communicate directly with God.

Incorporation of the Cultural Health Practices into the Contemporary Nursing Environment

Studies show that in the minority and immigrant populations in the United States, there is the adency to use modern medicine concomitantly with the traditional health care interventions. In addition, some cultural health care practices play a major role in determining the patient outcomes and the level of accessibility of the modern health care services in different communities such as in the Native American and Asian populations (Andrews & Boyle, 2008, p. 3). Therefore, there is the need for professional nurses to incorporate the transcultural nursing concepts into their daily practices to satisfy the health care needs of all communities.

Here, an understanding of different cultural health practices in various communities presents the health care worker with the necessary competencies to approach different patients with different strategies (Andrews & Boyle, 2008, p. 15). Therefore, the nurses should take a bold step towards carrying out the trans-cultural concepts in nursing practices by first recognizing the role played by the traditional healers and spirituality in encouraging a positive patient outcome. In addition, the nurses should demonstrate the highest standards of open-mindedness and sensitivity to diverse cultural practices to understand their role in promoting effective patient treatment (Andrews & Boyle, 2008, p. 33).

Conversely, to develop a culturally-competent strategy, which satisfies the needs of a diverse group of communities, professional nurses should use the six-step trans-cultural framework also known as ‘ETHNIC’. According to Andrews and Boyle (2008, p. 159), nurses are advised to seek explanations (E) from their patients concerning the patient’s idea of the cause of his/her illness. Additionally, nurses should seek to know the additional treatments (T) that the patient has already taken before prescribing other medicines. Subsequently, the nurses should inquire from their patients if they have already sought any assistance from their traditional healers (H).

In so doing, the nurse gets the opportunity to negotiate (N) with the patient about all the possible medical interventions (I) and options to reach a consensus on the medical practices and interventions, which are acceptable to both parties (Andrews & Boyle, 2008, p. 165). Furthermore, the decision reached should give room for the incorporation of alternative practices into the medical interventions and practices agreed on by the nurses and their patients. Finally, the nurses should collaborate (C) with the patients, community healers, and other community and family members to come with trans-cultural concepts and strategies to improve the quality of nursing care at the community and hospital levels.


The essay presents an in-depth discussion on the cultural health practices relative to contemporary evidence-based nursing (EBN) practices. From the discussions above, it is notable that there are several cultural health practices in different communities in America. Furthermore, some of these practices show obvious similarities and differences with contemporary nursing practices such as evidence-based nursing (EBN) practices. Therefore, to develop nursing practices that balance the two extremes of traditional and modern nursing practices, it is the responsibility of the nurses to use the proposed trans-cultural framework, which holds promising outcomes in terms of improving the quality of nursing care.


Andrews, M. & Boyle, J. S. (2008). Trans-cultural concepts in nursing care (5th ed.). USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

DiCenso, A., Guyatt, G. & Ciliska, D. (2005). Evidence-based Nursing: A guide to clinical practice. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby, Inc.

Hendrix, L. (2005). Health and health care of American Indian and Alaska Native elders. San Francisco: University of California, Department of Physiological Nursing. Web.

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