Chapter 1: The Search for Spiritual/Cultural Competency
Mohammed, 34 years old, married and with three children, comes from rural surroundings, with little academic culture and great faith in Allah. For him, the most important thing is family, a family which involves all types of kinship, and his God. The carpet facing the East is the most valuable relic in their house, from which they say their daily prayers. If they are busy with field work, they stop and look for the answer of life, which is Him, the Eternal one. They do not drink alcohol, do not eat impure animals, they respect their elders, they do not rob, they comply with fasting of the Ramadan. Everything can happen, nothing has importance, neither poverty nor wealth, everything is good. Mohammed was recently diagnosed with a rapidly-growing lung cancer. Mohammed did not trust Western medicine, so he refused treatment. Mohammed was then treated palliatively.
As a health care professional, would you be prepared to care for Mohammed? Working with patients who are facing an illness can be challenging for the health care professional. In order to meet the needs of the person and their significant others, the health care professional must understand how cultural, religious, and spiritual dimensions of life join together to create a "web of meaning." This "web of meaning" is made known by a person’s life narrative.
The ethnic identity, which is embedded and unique within a cultural entity, and a person's religious and spiritual views of life shapes their life narrative. The health care professional strives to understand how the person’s life narrative is affected by illness. It is in this context that the health care professional assesses the needs of the person and their significant others.