The ethnocultural attributes of people from Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican heritages.


In this Module we examined the ethnocultural attributes of people from Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican heritages. People of Mexican heritage are a very diverse group and are not easily described. Although no specific set of characteristics can fully describe Mexican people, some commonalities distinguish them as an ethnic group. Many second- and third generation Mexican-Americans have significant job skills and education. By contrast, many, especially newer migrants from rural areas, have poor educational backgrounds and may place little value on education. Hispanics are the most undereducated ethnic group in the U.S., with only 57% aged 25 years or older having a high school education, compared with 88.4% for non-Hispanic Americans. Because of their more relaxed concept of time, Mexican-Americans may arrive late for appointments. Health-care providers must carefully listen for cues when discussing appointments. Disagreeing with health-care providers who set the appointment may be viewed as rude or impolite. Therefore, some Mexican-Americans will not tell you directly that they cannot make the appointment. The concept of familism is an all-encompassing value among Mexican-Americans, where the traditional family is still the foundation of their culture. Family takes precedence over work and all other aspects of life. In many Mexican families it is often said “God first, then family.” Common health problems in Mexico are malnutrition, malaria, cancer, diabetes, alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity, and heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability among Mexican-Americans communities. Mexican-Americans have five times the rate of diabetes mellitus, with an increased incidence of related complications when compared with European-Americans. Over 1.2 million Cuban Americans live in the U.S., representing the third largest Hispanic group (following Mexicans and Puerto Ricans). Many immigrated to the U.S legally from communist Cuba prior to 1966, but since then, others have escaped a tremendous personal peril. Communication styles tend to be very animated, and focused on present issues rather than the future. Spanish and English prevail. Family is the most important social unit and source of emotional and physical support among Cubans. The traditional family structure is patriarchal, although the more acculturated families have become more egalitarian. In terms of a “healthy” body, the Cuban ideal is a heavier, slightly overweight figure. The traditional Cuban diet is high in calories, starches, and fats, which predisposes individuals to the development of obesity and cardiovascular disease. Barriers to accessing health care among Cubans include language, poverty, time lag, and transportation. For some, overdependence on family and folk practices may also be a barrier in accessing care. Puerto Ricans are the second largest Hispanic cultural subgroup, representing nearly 3 million in the U.S. Most reside in metropolitan areas of the Northeastern U.S. Great significance is given to the concept of familism, and any behavior that shifts from this ideal is discouraged and may be perceived as a disgrace to the family. Migrant Puerto Ricans face a high incidence of chronic conditions such as mental illness among younger adults, and cardiopulmonary and musculoskeletal diseases among older people. Acute conditions among Puerto Ricans include a disproportionate number of acute respiratory illnesses, injuries, as well as infectious and parasitic diseases. Most Puerto Ricans had a curative view of health, and tend to underutilize health promotion and preventative services such as mammograms and dental examinations. Women are seen as the main caregivers and promoters of family health and the source of spiritual and physical strength. Many Puerto Ricans use traditional and folk healers. Discussion Question: Conduct a literature search to locate a journal article related to the health or health care practices of Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican people. Present a summary of the journal article, and examine how the information presented may impact your nursing practice. Please provide a copy of the journal article (or hyperlink) if possible.

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