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Definition and Background Information
Cultural values are the fundamental beliefs that people from a specific social group learn and share after spending a considerable amount of time in a common environment (Benson et al., 2017). Essentially, cultural values define how a particular group of people live, speak, eat, dress, and observe social functions among other things. In some cases, cultural values stem from laws and legal statutes. For instance, laws prohibiting theft, murder, or destruction of property are legislated by a government but later become cultural values for the people governed by them. This implies that cultural values are a function of the national ethos and customs. Benson et al. (2017) define national culture as attitudes and behaviors shared by people from the same society. It follows, therefore, that cultural values can stem from traditional customary settings or the national system of beliefs and attitudes.
According to Pearson Education (2019), cultural values refer to the “preferred ways of behaving or thinking that are sustained over time and used to govern or guide a cultural group’s actions and decisions” (p. 1767). In other words, cultural values shape people’s perspectives on various matters. This set of norms guide people on their interaction on a social level. An example of a cultural value in Western society is the emphasis on truth (Pearson Education, 2019, p. 1767). Regardless of the vast geography of the Western region, people here share a common set of principles that ensure harmonious living despite the diverse ethnicities, age, and gender characteristics. The purpose of this discussion is to connect the definition of cultural value with nursing implications and the overall healthcare delivery.
Why This Information is Important for Nurses
Observing cultural values is a crucial aspect of nursing practice. Patients have diverse cultural backgrounds that determine their expectations from healthcare providers. According to Sharifi et al. (2019), nurses ought to develop cultural competence through the integration of patients’ cultural values, their illness, and the available treatment (p. 2). This means that information about the patient’s cultural value makes an integral part of the nursing care plan. Patient-centered nursing dictates that the care and treatment that clients receive from nursing practitioners incorporate their desires and opinions. If the patient holds a specific perspective about a treatment option, the nurse is mandated to respect the opinion and discuss it with the patient and his or her family (Rosenberg et al., 2019, p. 857). An applicable example would be a patient’s opinion about death and dying when withdrawal from life support or palliative care is considered. The nurse should respect the patient’s wishes about the end of their lives even though it is contrary to the recommended alternatives.
Cultural values are useful in professional relationships and working in multidisciplinary healthcare teams. Healthcare workers from diverse cultures hold different cultural values. Nurses working in multiracial or multilingual healthcare teams should appreciate the divergent opinions that each of the team members holds. When discussing an issue concerning healthcare delivery, it is prudent for nurses to consider all the options based on various cultural values. By doing so, the interdisciplinary team can deliver solutions that ensure safety and quality care to patients.
Groups Affected by Cultural Values
In the contemporary healthcare setting, patients that seek the services of nurses and other medical practitioners come from varied sociodemographic backgrounds. Recent scholarly studies recommend the need for nurses to gain cultural competence to enable them to care for patients with diverse cultural backgrounds. In Iran, for instance, nurses expressed antipathy in caring for patients from a different religious sect (Amir & Heydar, 2017, p. 232). It means, therefore, that religious minorities are some of the groups of people affected by cultural values when it comes to seeking medical services. Other groups of people affected by the effect of conflicting cultural values are immigrants, gender and sexual minorities, and the native communities.
Cultural diversity translates to communities with varying values and norms. In a society where people come from different cultures, nurses face challenges in handling patients with divergent cultural values. Therefore, cultural competence remains the mainstay of intercultural care. Nurses should strive to learn cultural tolerance as well as the incorporation of patients’ cultural values in the care plan. Gender, sexual, racial, and religious minorities hold peculiar cultural norms that influence their health-seeking behavior. However, national and universal cultural values should also guide nurses in making clinical decisions.