Familism in the Hispanic Community

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The Hispanic community in the United States is multi-national one, representing many different nationalities from places as varied as the Caribbean, Central and South America. Despite this variety Hispanics share many of the same cultural views in terms of how to handle subjects such as childbirth, aging and disability. These shared cultural values effect the way how they utilize health care. In this paper we will discuss the cultural value of "familism" and how it relates to the usage of health care services utilized by Hispanics.

Familism is the cultural belief that family members are obligated to provide support to their nuclear and extended family. It also refers to the sense of interdependency that relatives have for one another when they need help and support. This value is adhered to very strongly in the Hispanic community and can have far reaching implications in regards to how health care services is utilized.

When a member of a Hispanic family is in need of health care services it almost becomes a sort of family affair. Health care workers are often bombarded by a slew of relatives crowding their office asking a multitude of questions. Important medical decisions are often decided upon communally so all family members feel the need to be included in every step of the way during the process. This can provide problems for health care workers with no knowledge of this cultural phenomenon. HIPAA regulations are very strict in terms of their guidelines on exactly how to protect patient privacy. Professionals who seek to minimize the number of family members who actively participate in the health care process to ensure privacy run this risk of alienating the family and making them less receptive to medical advice. This value may be confusing and frustrating to health professionals however, it can be of extreme benefit to the families that practice it. Thirty-four percent of Hispanic American households provide support to non-nuclear family...
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