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Cancer, Culture, Transcultural assessment



  1. Delbar, Vared R.N., Ph.D.


Quality of life perceptions, the meaning of cancer perception, and the meaning of illness are culture bound. Culture includes learned and shared ways of interpreting the world and interacting in society, and thereby provides all individuals with ideas about what is good or bad, desirable or undesirable, valued or devalued in life. Israel is an immigration country, and its citizens came from all over the world. It is also a meeting zone between Middle Eastern traditional culture and Western modern medicine. Cancer patients and a substantial proportion of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals are from different ethnic backgrounds. In hospitals, clinics, and other places where health professionals live, work, or relax, there is a network of cultural factors that plays an important role in the well-being of patients. Cultural effects can considerably complicate the assessment of how an individual is likely to react to various aspects of the hospital environment, medical condition, treatment, staff, fellow patients, and so on. Ideal management includes the foresight to forestall problems that may arise and to create favorable psychosomatic effects that help patients to respond positively to treatment. To illustrate the cultural component in nursing care, four cancer patients from totally different cultural backgrounds are described: a bedouin, an Israeli-born Jew whose parents immigrated from Tunisia, and two immigrant patients, one from the United States and the other from Ethiopia. All four patients were treated by chemotherapy, radiation, or both in an oncology daycare unit at the Soroka Medical Center in Beer-Sheva. Also, a special education program for immigrant nurses is presented, as well as a new immigrant nurse from the former Soviet Union.