Bio-cultural Beliefs about Asthma
In Amsterdam, Netherlands, different ethno-cultural groups hold diverse views about asthma. However, it’s possible to trace some commonalities among these beliefs with the most common being that asthma is an acute prompted by various factors rather than a chronic disease (van Dellen, et al., 2018). As a result, a majority of people from these group do not consider it important that Asthma patients use inhalers on a daily basis. This belief is associated with lack of adherence to treatment. The study by (van Dellen, et al., 2018) also revealed that a majority of children suffering from asthma as well as their parents did not know why they were suffering from asthma, others though in runs in the family, Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands also blamed Asthma on the damp weather/climate in Netherlands while others thought asthma was triggered by their actions. One mother of Turkish decent, for example, stated that her child’s asthma “is triggered by what I do. (van Dellen, et al., 2018).” Immigrant children suffering from asthma are afraid/ashamed of telling their friends they have asthma as it was “not beneficial to their friendship.” Lastly, in Surinamese culture, it is bad hospitality to ask a guest to put off their cigarette or not to smoke in the house even if it jeopardizes your child’s health. In this case, the child is asked to go to their room (van Dellen, et al., 2018).
Impact of these beliefs on child development
From the above beliefs, it is clear that children miss out on optimal asthma care. For one, the belief that asthma is an acute condition causes non-adherent behavior to medication which is crucial to effective asthma management. Secondly, beliefs such as “she only has asthma when in her father’s house,” may limit children access to their parents and parental care from both parents. The Surinamese mother who held this belief also stated that she prefers her child to spend less time with her father which is detrimental to the child’s overall emotional and psychological development. Third, the belief that disclosure about one’s condition as asthmatic is not beneficial to the child’s friendship with their peers is indicative of the fragility or vulnerability of the child about their health and the need to keep it hidden which might jeopardize their character (van Dellen, et al., 2018). Lastly, it seems that culture is put on a pedestal as against a child’s health when a guest smokes in the house. Saving face and maintaining a good reputation with family and friends seems more valuable to the effect that the asthmatic child suffers an asthma attack.
Cultural beliefs on the causes of chronic illnesses and disability among children
A majority of cultures tend to believe that chronic diseases and disabilities are a result of sin, a curse or breaking a cultural taboo and therefore serve as punishment from superior beings. Consequently, family and community members may neglect to take care of children suffering from such disabilities or may do so half-heatedly. Such children are also abandoned or neglect as they are seen as physical proof of their parents’, family’s or ancestors’ “evil” (Groce & Zola, 2016). Secondly, some African, Native American and Caribbean communities attribute chronic illnesses and disability to witchcraft. This occurs especially where the child’s disease or disability is sudden and characterized by rapid onset. In such cases it is believed that someone cast an “evil eye” or an “evil spell” on the child. In such cases, the child is seen as an innocent victim while in others, it may be as a result of the witch’s grudge against the child’s parent or for revenge (Groce & Zola, 2016). Other ethnic groups believe that chronic diseases and disabilities are inherited or “run in the family’s blood” also as a result of a familial curse.
Hispanic Cultural Illnesses Affecting Children
Pujos, a disease in Hispanic culture believed to be caused by the child’s contact with a woman who is on her periods or if the child’s mother received her periods before the end of 60 days after delivery (Andrews & JS, 2016). It is characterized by the child making grunting sounds and a navel that is protruding. The evil eye, on the other hand is believed to be caused by either intentional or unintentional injury to the child by a person who looked at or especially admired the child. The mal de dojo appears where this “evil” person does not get to hold the child after which they develop bouts of crying, intense fever, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea (Andrews & JS, 2016). Fallen/sunken fontanelle is the most feared Hispanic folk illness especially among mothers since it is believed to be caused by maternal neglect. Its symptoms include a depression in the child’s skull, sunken eyes, dehydration and absence of tears from too much crying, vomiting, and diarrhoea, fever and irritability (Pachter, Weller, & Baer, 2016). Lastly, empacho, a Hispanic illness occurring when unprocessed food is wedged along the digestive tract, is characterized by lack of appetite, constipation, bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting (Andrews & JS, 2016).
Andrews, M., & JS, B. (2016). Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care. New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Groce, N., & Zola, I. (2016). Multiculturalism, Chronic Illness, and Disabilit. Paediatric Health, 3(5), 67-82.
Pachter, L. M., Weller, S., & Baer, R. (2016). Culture and Dehydration: A Comparative Study of Caída De La Mollera (Fallen Fontanel) in Three Latino Populations. Journal of Immigrants and Minorities Health, 18(5), 1066-1075. doi:10.1007/s10903-015-0259-0
van Dellen, Q., van Aalderen, W., Bindels, P., Ory, F., Bruil, J., & Stronks, K. (2018). Asthma beliefs among mothers and children from different ethnic origins living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. BMC Public Health, 8(380), 876-891. Retrieved May 30, 2020, from https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-8-380