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Cultural and Health Belief Systems
A worldview refers to an extensive and comprehensive outlook on life, reality and the universe. A worldview can be cultural, philosophical, liberal or even religious (Malham, 2017). It shapes an individual’s perspective on existence and trickles down to their daily activities and beliefs. It is indicative of a person’s view point, attitudes and beliefs. An individual’s worldview is also the nucleus of their cultural identity which is characterized by their beliefs, assumptions, values and attitudes, all derived from the socialization process in a specific cultural context. This is to say that a client’s cultural belief system refers to theories either based on culture or ethnicity that determine the way the client understands and structures their attitudes, health or otherwise. A cultural belief system is therefore a configuration of thoughts, notions, concepts and ideas in which their components are brought together by some form of functional reliance or interdependence (Daenikindt, de Koster, & va der Waal, 2017). Lastly, a paradigm refers to one of the components making up a worldview of cultural belief system. I could be a notion, theory or thought.
The magico-religious health belief system is based on a belief in supernatural or magical forces existing in the natural environment. Under this perspective, everything, including health and illness is in the hands of supernatural powers such as God or gods (De Angulo & Losada, 2017). Treatment can be by indigenous healers and is as a result of the influences of the supernatural forces. In the scientific/biomedical paradigm, however, no supernatural forces dominate. It focuses on solely on biological or physical components and processes excluding all others such as social and environmental influences. Under this paradigm, health and illness are under human control. Its characterized by determinism, mechanism, reductionism and objective materialism. Lastly, it stresses on medical or pharmacological approaches to treatment, approaches which essentially target abnormalities in biological processes (De Angulo & Losada, 2017). The holistic paradigm, unlike the scientific model asserts that all components/elements of a client’s life, be they social, physical, environmental, emotional, psychological and subjective have a bearing on their health. It is based on the laws of nature which require a balance of all the mentioned concepts. Lastly, every component is functionally important or has a role to play in an individual’s health. Their interactions can be nurturing or destructive (Fiandaca, Mapstone, & Federoff, 2017).
The professional healthcare system is inherently different from the folk care health system although there exist useful similarities. For one, professional care is characterized by professional or specialised education and training. Doctors, nurses and other professional healthcare providers undergo vigorous academic and practicum training for the to acquire the requisite skills as well as acquire practising licenses. Under the folk care system, although practitioners may undergo some form of training through apprenticeship, the same is not formal. Also, fork care practitioners such as lay midwives and spiritual healers are not licensed (Coreil, 2015). Secondly, professional healthcare is based on scientific and internationally recognized standards of health such as disease prevention, medical treatment patient ethics, etc. However, the folk care systems are based on cultural or religious beliefs and therefore differ between cultures, religions and other ethnic lines. This is because folk care systems across different settings embody the values, beliefs and treatment approaches of the particular cultural group in which its participants belong (Edelman, Mandle, & Kudzma, 2013). Lastly, as a result of the adherence to international standards, professional healthcare systems are organized, formal and structured unlike folk care systems that are diversified, informal and lack in structural uniformity. However, it is important to note that within a specific category of folk care say among rural Chinese practitioners. It is possible to identify a semblance of formality and uniformity.
Allopathy or allopathic medicine refers to a health system that relies on mainstream medicine and other mainstream healthcare practices. It can also be referred to as conventional, orthodox, western or mainstream medicine (Trimble & Rajaraman, 2017). It is the contemporary form of healthcare experienced in civilised societies today, where healthcare professionals such as doctors, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists and other healthcare professionals undergo professional training and are afterwards licensed to provide healthcare services including the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. In allopathic medicine, the dominant care system is the professional as opposed to the folk care systems and treatment is via medicinal treatment or medication, surgery, radiation, dialysis and other medical or scientific based treatments and therapies (Trimble & Rajaraman, 2017). Along with mainstream medicine in allopathy are other forms of care, commonly referred to as complementary and alternative medicine. These may include the use of herbs, massage, yoga, meditation, sleep therapy, dream work and intuition. However, in most cases, especially in the use of herbs, patients are required to consult with their mainstream medicine care providers, that is, doctors, nurses, and other physicians. Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners are known to use the term allopathic medicine as a form of distinction between their practice and that of mainstream medicine.
Coreil, J. (2015). Parallel structures in professional and folk healthcare: A model applied to rural Haiti. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 7(1), 131-151.
Daenikindt, S., de Koster, W., & va der Waal, J. (2017). How people organise cultural attitudes: cultural belief systems and the populist radical right. West European Politics, 40(4), 791-811.
De Angulo, J., & Losada, L. (2017). View of health paradigms shifts in the 20th century. Historical Review, 16(3), 88-101.
Edelman, C., Mandle, C., & Kudzma, E. (2013). Health Promotion Throughout the Life Span. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Fiandaca, M., Mapstone, M., & Federoff, H. (2017). Systems healthcare: a holistic paradigm for tomorrow. BMC Systems Biology, 11(142), 5-21.
Malham, P. (2017). Investigating the Structure and Functions of Worldview Assumptions. Oregon: University of Oregon.
Trimble, E., & Rajaraman, P. (2017). Intergrating Traditional and Allopathic Medicine: An Opportunity to Improve Global Health in Cancer. JNCI Monographs, 2017(52), lgx011.
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