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«Culture Review»

The role of cultural awareness in nursing and other fields tends to increase with each day. The reason is that the current global community is very diverse, and it is necessary to develop such interventions that would address the cultural needs of every population group in the most precise way. The current paper provides a cultural review of people of Chinese American heritage on the basis of the Purnell Model. The models related to biocultural ecology, communication, and spirituality will be examined. In general, correct utilization of the above models may contribute to more effective and culturally responsible decisions.

Purnell's Model

Systematic assessment of culture-related issues is possible only from a systematic perspective. Purnell (2013) has developed a sophisticated model that allows nurses and other professionals to comprehend major elements of various cultures. In this way, their decisions can become more rational and effective. The author provides various cultural aspects in a structured and well-organized form. The model includes a large number of assumptions (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 2, p. 15). The most important of them include the recognition of the global society, the interdependence of various cultures, and the growing role of cultural awareness.

The Purnell Model includes both macro and micro aspects, as it is applicable at different levels of intercultural communication. The macro level refers to a number of issues including world communication, international exchanges, and the expanding opportunities open for modern people (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 2, p. 16). The author views communities as a set of people with the common identity or interests. The concept of family refers to two or more people who are emotionally connected to each other. The author regards health as a state of wellness experienced by a given individual within his/her cultural group. There are both objective and subjective elements in one’s perception of health. Therefore, nurses should address all of them simultaneously.

As cultural issues are not homogeneous, they should be addressed from several perspectives. The micro level includes 12 specific cultural domains that allow the understanding of the particular context of various cultures (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 2, p. 18). In the beginning, the general overview of the culture, communication patterns, and family roles are examined. Then, the workforce issues, the biocultural aspects, and the major patterns of high-risk behaviors are analyzed. Nutrition and child-bearing practices are evaluated. The most common death rituals and spiritual factors are discussed. Finally, the author focuses on the most common healthcare practices and providers.

In this way, it is possible to understand the hidden cultural contexts that are always present in different individuals. The examination of the relevant healthcare aspects after determining the general overview of cultures is important for specifying the major cultural implications and challenges faced by social members. Consequently, the most effective interventions may be determined. As the Purnell Model addresses the critical issues both at the micro- and macro-levels, it enables the developing of culturally competent strategies in the most congruent manner.

Nurses and other professionals may apply the broad cultural context to the needs and requirements of a specific client. Moreover, they can predict the most common and probable problems and difficulties associated with dealing with a given individual. Although all individuals are different, all members of a particular cultural group possess some common characteristics that should be considered while designing the ultimate set of interventions. The major positive aspect of the Purnell Model is that it is almost universally applicable, and it is possible to compare the responses demonstrated by different cultures to the same stimuli and interventions. It is reasonable to apply this model to analyzing the people of Chinese heritage.

Biocultural Ecology

It is necessary to examine the biocultural ecology of the people of Chinese heritage. This term describes the most typical physical, physiological, and biological characteristics observed among these people. The skin color found among Chinese people depends on the region of their origin as well as some hereditary factors (Fennell, 2013). The type of the dominant Mongolian characteristics depends on different factors, and multiple variations are possible. The length and density of Chinese people’s bones are much smaller in comparison with Western people (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 10, p. 186). The proportion of twins in families is very low, but their emergence is highly appreciated nowadays due to the strict Chinese government’s regulations in this sphere (the families are allowed to have only one child). Thus, twins allow families to have two children without violating the national legal regulations.

People of Chinese heritage mostly prefer settling in large cities where they have higher opportunities for their professional development. Thus, some health risks and threats are related to the place of their residence. Such risks include air pollution, the spreading of infectious diseases, and violence threats (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 10, p. 186). The spreading of tuberculosis among Chinese people is also very high (Wang et al., 2015). However, the rate of Chinese people’s involvement in criminal activities of different types is systematically lower in comparison with other racial and population groups. Tus, Chinese people generally try to minimize the risks associated with their external environment.

The current health trends in China and among Chinese people in general are highly positive. The reason is the rapid economic growth and development of the nation during the last 30 years (Leow, 2014). A higher standard of living and the availability of healthcare facilities contributed to the dramatic increase in life expectancy as well as the decrease of health risks (Zhang, Zhai, Du, & Popkin, 2014). However, tobacco smoking is one of the major factors contributing to the existing health hazards among Chinese people. Correspondingly, various lung-related problems are comparatively widespread. Diabetes is also relatively common among Chinese people. At the same time, the situation with alcohol consumption and HIV-related risks is satisfactory (Wang et al., 2015). Thus, the structure of health risks among Chinese people is very different from that of the Western population. Therefore, the corresponding adjustments of the traditional treatment procedures are necessary.

Health conditions of Chinese people deviate from the traditional Western pattern. Poor metabolism is observed in 15%-20% of Chinese people (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 10, p. 186). Thus, it is a comparatively serious issue, especially in the context of higher risks of obtaining infectious diseases among this group (Fennell, 2013). Therefore, the national government is trying to develop effective interventions in this field. Moreover, Chinese people have a higher sensitivity to alcohol in comparison with the majority of other people (Leow, 2014). Thus, even low levels of alcohol consumption create risks for their health. The degrees of drug metabolism vary among Chinese people in different regions. Thus, the structure of drug-related concerns is unique and requires culturally competent decisions.

Communication

It is also reasonable to examine the communication patterns demonstrated by the people of Chinese heritage. Communication refers to the way of delivering oral and non-oral messages to other individuals relying on common representation systems. Chinese people use several languages and a large number of dialects. The official language is Mandarin, and the majority of the population, including the citizens of Beijing, use this language on a daily basis (Hong, 2015). However, Shanghainese used in Shanghai and around ten other dialects are also highly important in China (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 10, p. 180). Some communication difficulties may exist even among Chinese people from different parts of the country. However, the common written language allows to solve these problems.

Chinese people prefer using the simplest forms of other languages. For example, they use simplistic English expressions to avoid confusion and misunderstanding while communicating with others (Hong, 2015). It is also reasonable to avoid negative formulations while posing questions or making proposals to Chinese people (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 10, p. 180). Chinese people may demonstrate their agreement even in those cases where the general context of the situation is not well-understood. Therefore, it is advisable to verify Chinese people’s responses and understanding on a regular basis.

The cultural communication patterns demonstrated by Chinese people reveal different meanings and priorities of these people. They do not typically express all their emotions openly but try to conceal their actual perception of the situation and others (Hong, 2015). In various formal contexts, Chinese people prefer using official forms while communicating with others. If the representatives of other cultures begin using the informal way of communication, it may have a negative impact on their relationships with Chinese people, although the latter may conceal their emotions.

Moreover, Chinese individuals try to use communication for maintaining the existing balance in the society and their group. They always demonstrate their respect to people of a higher social status. Elderly people also enjoy the respect of all Chinese individuals, as it is present in all their norms and traditions. Touching is not widespread among Chinese people, as they consider that it is appropriate only among the closest people (Tai, Zhang, Wang, & Lin, 2013). Therefore, both healthcare professionals and other people involved in formal relationships should minimize the use of touching in their communication.

Temporal relationships are important for Chinese people, as they are mostly oriented to the future. They prefer to be involved in long-term planning and minimize potential risks (Tai et al., 2013). This pattern of temporal relationships contributes to a close integration of interests of different generations. Moreover, young Chinese people always consider the interests of elderly people and vice versa. The fact that China still experiences a substantial impact of socialist ideas also contributes to the process of long-term planning of its citizens. In addition, Chinese individuals evaluate their future plans from the collectivist rather than individual perspective. They suggest that the proper balance between all social members should be found.

In general, it is very important to address all cultural aspects during the communication with Chinese people. If some serious cultural elements are neglected, the effectiveness of communication may decline substantially (Hong, 2015). Moreover, the representatives of other cultures may even be unable to identify the source of the problem in a timely manner. Therefore, the atmosphere of reespectful and culturally coherent attitude should be maintained. In this way, positive long-term results and mutually beneficial relationships can be established.

Spirituality

Spiritual aspects are also extremely important for the people of Chinese heritage. The reason is that people both demonstrate their adherence to traditions and try to integrate the relevant spiritual practices in their plans. The major difficulty associated with identifying the dominant religious beliefs of Chinese people refers to the large-scale government’s intervention in this field. The fact is that the national Communist Party positions itself as an atheist organization and tries to prevent the growing role of religion in the country. Currently, it recognizes the following five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 10, p. 190). At the same time, Christianity is not typically viewed positively by the Chinese government’s officials (Puett, 2013). It may also be explained by the negative perception of the Roman Catholic Church. However, gradual liberalization of religious life in China is observed.

Moreover, such religious beliefs as Confucianism play an important role in grasping the sense of life and establishing major spiritual priorities. Although the standards of living tend to increase in China, the role of religious and spiritual practices also demonstrates positive dynamics. The Eastern part of the country is characterized by the prevalence of folk religions (Puett, 2013). Islam is dominant in the Western regions of the country. Buddhism is widespread in the South of the country. Thus, serious geographical distribution of religions in China is evident.

Prayers are used in China for reaching a specific spiritual state. Even non-religious people may use prayers in some contexts. Substantial differences are observed among various religious groups in different parts of the country in relation to the use and meaning of prayers. Their role is especially crucial among Muslim Chinese. Among Buddhists, prayer is important, although it is integrated into the general religious system (Puett, 2013). As the general religious environment tends to become more liberal, the use of prayers becomes more open in various regions of the country.

The meaning of life is very important to Chinese people, as they suggest that all life events have their hidden meaning. All events and social processes are interrelated and reflect the general universal law. People can understand it with the help of sacred religious texts, prayers, and their moral behavior (Puett, 2013). Thus, they believe that religions must be reflected in people’s actions and attitudes towards others. If people do not act in accordance with their religious views, then their declared religious practices are meaningless.

Chinese people support the ideas of the system framework. It means that they recognize that everything is interrelated, and it is necessary to specify these forces and act accordingly (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 10, p. 190). The meaning of life is also based on the recognition of the roles of ancestors and Chinese traditions. According to Chinese beliefs, the past, present, and future constitute the elements of the same universal system. Therefore, it is reasonable to use the knowledge of the past to implement it in the present and influence the future.

Chinese people try to maximize their individual sources of strength. A family is generally considered as the major source of power (Purnell, 2013, Chapter 10, p. 190). Thus, some collectivist elements are present even in people’s individual sources of strength. Chinese people differentiate between the sources of strength and resources. The latter may include physical, financial, mental, and emotional ones. They suggest that these resources can lead to the desired results only if they are used correctly and for moral purposes. Therefore, the assessment of resources depends on their applications.

The most popular spiritual beliefs are based on Confucianism and other traditional philosophies and religions. People try to apply this form of knowledge to their current challenges and life situations. Correspondingly, healthcare practices should reflect Chinese people’s worldview. They should not violate Chinese people’s traditional views and values. The optimal balance between physical, mental, and spiritual health should be found. It is also reasonable to examine patients’ feedback regularly to make minor changes if they are necessary.

Conclusion

To summarize, the Purnell Model offers a well-designed framework for analyzing cultural peculiarities of different groups. The model is almost universal, as it may be applied to various social contexts. As a result, it allows comparing various cultures in relation to the key criteria. The model’s application demonstrates that the people of Chinese heritage possess a unique culture. Their skin conditions may vary depending on the region of their origin. Moreover, the health level of Chinese people demonstrates rapid improvement due to the recent economic achievements. They live in the environment of multiple dialects, and only the written language allows them to understand each other. At the same time, the cultural communication patterns reveal their preferences of concealing emotions and respecting others’ social status. However, the impact of spirituality is especially high, and the government is trying to liberalize the national religions’ regulations.

 

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