Hispanic Cultures & Beliefs
The Hispanic culture and their medical beliefs
80% of Hispanics do not speak English.
Understanding each other
Another Hispanic peculiarity, perhaps due to the emphasis on the respect for authority, is the apparent acceptance of what the health worker (or any other person) is saying. Sometimes when one does not understand, it is easy to say "yes." However, the nodding and affirmative expressions among Hispanic patients are not necessarily associated with acceptance. They must be asked to repeat what they have understood. Even with a translator, communication can become distorted unintentionally due to the difficulty of both languages.
As becoming sick is considered a weakness, intimate thoughts and concerns are shared only with very close persons (such as mothers or spouses). Hispanics believe that home and family problems should not leave the environment. Health professionals must realize that they do not identify the same health risks as patients do. Some beliefs and attitudes may go un-noticed if open communication is not allowed.
Some Hispanics believe that there are some diseases that can be handled only by the healer ("curandero") in certain specific rituals. This type of person tends to believe that physicians and their medicines would only do further harm-that "spells," "fright," or the "evil eye" could be fatal if not attended to in time.
Because virginity and the ability to bear children still have outmost importance, most single women will not submit to pelvic examinations except in life threatening situations. Many myths and misinformation about family planning are apparent; but, in this respect, Hispanic beliefs are similar to those of the population in general.
Signs of Weakness
The presentation of alternatives for treatment, although required by law and common sense, may be considered evidence of weakness by Hispanic patients, as well as an indication of a physician's poor knowledge and poor performance. They may search for another physician who will tell them what to do, although younger people and patients who have been in this country longer are becoming more knowledgeable in their new country's ways, and often request participation in the decision making process concerning their health.
Where are Hispanics from?
This is a map of South America. It is color coded and shows the languages spoken in each part. The orange is Spanish-speaking persons.
This is a map of Cuba. "Cuba is a Latin American country on the North American Continent. The primary language spoken in Cuba is Spanish."
This is a map of Puerto Rico. "Both Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico, but Spanish is without a doubt the dominant language, as the majority of the people in Puerto Rico are not proficient in English. Fewer than 20 percent of Puerto Ricans speak English fluently, according to the 1990 U.S. Census."