Cultural Background and Mental Health Issues


My patient encountered in the clinical was a 65 years old female Muslim from African Ethiopia. She does not speak English, and she is very dedicated to her religion and culture. Her cultural background has affected her mental and physical health care in two ways. Firstly, due to her religion, she felt uncomfortable with the male doctor; hence, she preferred a female doctor and nurse to take care of her. However, most healthcare institutions lack female physicians, which often results in delayed care for Muslim women (Vu et al., 2016). Secondly, her strict prayer times interfered with her medical treatment. These challenges were supplemented by her language barrier and low health literacy, along with fear of social pressure, which Muslim female patients frequently experience (Tackett et al., 2018). As a result, she experienced significant anxiety during her treatment.


Analysis of the patient’s symptoms revealed that she suffered from clinical depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). She experienced depression for two reasons: first, she felt guilty that she had to sacrifice her religious practices to obtain her medical treatment. In other words, she perceived that she was betraying her religious identity. Secondly, since she struggled to receive medical treatment systematically due to cultural requirements, she was afraid that her health condition might deteriorate significantly, eventually causing the risk of death. The excessive anxiety can explain her diagnosis of GAD; she experienced that her family and community might discover about her sacrifices during medical treatment and hence, shame her.


Nurses implemented two major interventions to address the patient’s mental health condition while considering her cultural background. Firstly, healthcare professionals provided her with an interpreter to improve patient-physician communication. Professional interpreters are also found to improve patient care and can be cost-effective (Jaeger et al., 2019). The second intervention involved the provision of a female doctor and nurse for the patient. As such, nurses utilized these two interventions to ensure that healthcare professionals met the patient’s cultural needs.


Although the above-mentioned interventions alleviated the patient’s mental and physical healthcare struggles, other healthcare professionals and I could implement additional measures to improve the patient experience. Namely, I should have paid attention to the patient’s family and community to provide her better care since they significantly influence her mental health. However, this aspect was excluded from the focus and should be considered in the future.


Jaeger, F. N., Pellaud, N., Laville, B., & Klauser, P. (2019). The migration-related language barrier and professional interpreter use in primary health care in Switzerland. BMC Health Services Research, 19(1), 1–10. Web.

Tackett, S., Young, J. H., Putman, S., Wiener, C., Deruggiero, K., & Bayram, J. D. (2018). Barriers to healthcare among Muslim women: A narrative review of the literature. Women’s Studies International Forum, 69, 190–194. Web.

Vu, M., Azmat, A., Radejko, T., & Padela, A. I. (2016). Predictors of delayed healthcare seeking among American Muslim women. Journal of Women’s Health, 25(6), 586–593. Web.

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