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Friday, December 24, 2010

Hospice-Palliative Care Diversity Outreach: Asian Culture (Chinese American Video 1:32)


Meeting the cultural needs and preferences (ethnic and religious beliefs, values, and practices) of hospice-palliative care patients is an important part of quality health care. People view the world through their cultures and values. To ignore this fact and impose one’s own culture and values on others caters to miscommunication and alienation. With respect and sensitivity, bridges can be built that help people connect at human levels, regardless of their differences. The availability of more language interpreters at healthcare institutions can facilitate this communication and bonding. Ongoing education on the culture and traditions of various populations, along with the understanding that varied beliefs exist within each group, must be increased throughout the healthcare system to improve service to diverse groups.

Many Asians prefer family caregiving of their aging, terminally ill relatives. In addition to being reluctant to place their elders in nursing homes for hospice care, they may also be reluctant to discuss specifics about illnesses with those in their care to keep them hopeful and without worry. Some Asian cultures consider direct eye contact, particularly with someone considered a superior to be inappropriate. Healthcare providers should gather more knowledge of Asian culture, including input from Asians, in order to promote benefits of hospice and palliative care.

In the following video, Nellie Kwan, a hospice clinical supervisor who works for Self-Help Hospice in San Francisco, describes cultural concerns regarding end-of-life care and Chinese Americans. According to her, most Chinese Americans do not understand hospice at all. This video is part of the Hospice Foundation of America “HFA Cares” series:


Frances Shani Parker, Author

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