Cultural Healthcare Needs And Challenges In Australia

Cultural Needs in Healthcare

This paper focuses on different factors, especially the cultural healthcare needs that may contrast with the healthcare systems in Australia. This essay focuses on three examples of health care needs which include the language barrier between aboriginal patients and health care providers, the Muslim religion and midwifery practice in relation to cultural sensitivity. Also, the essay suggests the interventions that can be adopted by registered nurses in order to provide culturally safe care. Australia being a multicultural society requires healthcare professionals to adopt cultural sensitivity and awareness of the various types of patients. Considering and separating personal preferences and perceptions is a vital element in cultural sensitivity. However, it can be difficult for healthcare providers because they always practice within the limits stipulated by procedures, practices and generally accepted medical guidelines of the Australian healthcare system.

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  1. Religion

Basing on religion, this piece of writing focuses on the provision of high-quality care to Muslim patients. The delivery of care to such patients needs a comprehension of cultural and spiritual differences and values. In Australia, members of the Muslim faith represent a considerable portion and remains one of the religions that grow at a fast rate in the whole world. It is possible that most of the Australian healthcare providers will care for patients of the Muslim faith during the course of their careers. The Muslim culture involves different ethnicities that have diverse beliefs when it comes to healthcare and illness. Therefore, the delivery of care to such patients normally poses challenges to most of the non-Muslim care providers because of the Islamic culture influences health practices, family dynamics, decision making and risks (Dell’Arciprete et al., 2014).

Comprehending the beliefs of Islamic faith is a necessary requirement for healthcare providers to deliver suitable healthcare that is culturally sensitive. To accomplish this, healthcare professionals must understand the religious effects, family perspectives, diet, health, traditional medical influence, privacy, and gender. By doing so, healthcare professionals will provide culturally sensitive care to members of the Muslim faith (Farley and Jordan, 2016).

First, the Islamic faith is sensitive to diet. For instance, Muslims prohibit pork by-products, alcohol, non-Halal animal products and all the animals that are not slaughtered basing on the Muslim faith. Also, the prayer times of Muslims may affect the meal times in a medical facility hence the need for special provisions for such patients. Most of the the Muslims may not accept meals from the healthcare facility hence the need for special arrangements that allow for home-cooked meals. In such situations, it is advisable to provide seafood, vegetables, fruits, and eggs (Holland, 2017).

Healthcare Needs of Muslim Patients

The privacy and modesty of Muslim patients should be highly considered. Preferably, it is desirable if healthcare providers of the same gender to take care of patients with similar gender. For instance, it is very significant if the patient needs gynecologic care. Normally, if the gender-sensitive care is not possible, a female medical provider or a relative to the patient should be available during the communications and examinations. If a male practitioner is attending to a female Muslim patient, it is highly advisable for the expert to elaborate on the steps to be followed when examining the female Muslim patient and if it is necessary for the clothing to be removed, it should be done for the shortest time possible (Grant, Parry, and Guerin, 2013). In most situations, a female Muslim patient will not shake hands or maintain eye contact with the male practitioner. Therefore, such a situation should not be considered as a rejection sign or mistrust since this is an expression of modesty in the Muslim faith. According to the Muslim faith, privacy is very paramount and therefore considering this, healthcare providers should always be cautious and ask for permission before any intervention (Grant, Parry, and Guerin, 2013). For instance, Muslim patients always hesitate to expose parts of their bodies for medical examination. Permission should be requested prior to uncovering any of the parts to be examined. Also, the touch between male and female Muslims is not allowed except for close family members. It is only allowed to touch a Muslim patient of the opposite gender if there is a medical issue that involves a specific examination.

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Some of the medications are not allowed in the Muslim faith. For example, those that contain gelatin, alcohol or pork-based medicines. Therefore, healthcare providers should use alternative medications such as halal gelatin tablets and antibiotic liquids because they are gelatin free. In emergency cases where the alternative medicine may not be readily available, the prohibited medicine may be used but under one condition, the situation must be explained to the Muslim patient and permission sought prior to administering the medication (Lönnroth et al., 2015). Also, there are suggested medications during Ramadaan such as dental care, eye, and ear drops, nasal sprays and inhalers, insulin injections and vaccinations. However, blood donation and oral medications are not allowed during Ramadaan.

  1. Midwifery and Cultural Sensitivity

The Australian health system clearly indicates that cultural safety should adhere to the midwifery practice. To deliver culturally sensitive care, it is vital for the practitioners to adhere to and embrace the link between cultural sensitivity and healthcare results for women of different cultural backgrounds.

Cultural Sensitivity in Midwifery Practice

Most of the midwives ignore to identify and establish the importance of trust and needs of the women. Cultural sensitive midwifery encourages practitioners to include suitable communication that creates trust between the practitioner and the women. Also, the practitioners should acknowledge the cultural preferences of women. For instance, it can be challenging to provide culturally sensitive midwifery care to a woman who doesn’t know how to speak English in Australia. According to Foronda et al. (2016), non-English speaking Australian women feel excluded from the birth control and pregnancy management because of the incapability to communicate efficiently with the healthcare providers.

Gender sensitivity should also be considered in culturally safe midwifery healthcare practice. Ideally, some women choose to be attended to by female healthcare providers. This is especially common in the case of those women who have experienced female genital mutilation (FGM) and female circumcision. According to Ray (2016), most of the circumcised women view the practice of allowing male healthcare providers to attend to them as punitive and unpleasant to their cultural practices. Thus, the Australian healthcare system, midwives and organizations should address cultural sensitivity in such situations in order to deliver culturally safe care to women. Some women from cultures which prohibit the sharing of birth information, pregnancy, and gynecological examination are very sensitive to matters of privacy. Some may be stressed indeed with the fact that such information is shared with male practitioners who are not their partners (McBain?Rigg and Veitch, 2011). Women in such situations will normally feel emotionally disempowered and devastated. Consequently, it will be challenging for them to communicate openly with the male midwives, translators or other healthcare providers.

Healthcare providers should introduce language translators in order to facilitate communication and establish trust with the Australian women who are not able to speak English. However, lack of enough and suitable English translators can be a setback in the implementation of this strategy. Also, stakeholders should adhere to gender sensitivity during interpretation. For instance, male translators should not be used in situations where the culture of the women does not allow male healthcare providers to be engaged in midwifery care (Wylie et al., 2016).

Creating a good relationship with the pregnant women is a very significant intervention in the delivery of culturally sensitive care. The adoption of midwifery continuity care may lead to the creation of a sound relationship between the pregnant women and their midwives. This establishes trust, openness and eventually leads to culturally sensitive care in the midwifery practice. In Australia, the caseload midwifery model makes sure that a pregnant woman benefits from the perpetual care delivered by the same midwife (Mirza et al., 2014).

  1. Language Barrier between Aboriginal Patients and Healthcare Providers

Language Barrier in Healthcare

The language gap between indigenous Australians and health care providers has a vital impact on the health practice. Health illiteracy is confined to the Aboriginal people. Also, the gap is escalated by those who speak the indigenous language in relation to the non-English speaking migrants. This communication gap is common in the rural areas where the linguistic and cultural diversities are most pronounced (Brown, Middleton and Pincombe, 2016).

Practices used by most healthcare professionals to impose non-indigenous healthcare practices on indigenous Australian clients do not consider the language factor. A foreign care is undoubtedly an alien system to the Aboriginal Australians. For instance, many indigenous people have problems with specialized language, with normal medical terminologies such as high blood pressure, bacteria, stroke, tumor and infections normally being misinterpreted. Language barrier leads to various challenges when providing high-quality care to Aboriginal Australians. For instance, the presence of an interpreter may obscure the encounter between an Aboriginal patient and a healthcare provider (Chambers and Ryder, 2016). This situation arises because when the translator stands or sits between the patient and the healthcare provider diverts the attention and important communication components between the two. For instance, communication components such as the body language may cause the healthcare provider to miss some significant hints necessary for diagnosis. An example of the clues includes a perioral rash Aboriginal patient who frequently licks the lips. Besides, both the indigenous patient and the healthcare provider may miss some vital opportunities often created by spoken words. Such opportunities include warm gestures and smiles which are very important in creating and establishing rapport and trust (Chambers and Ryder, 2016).

Also, time is a very important element in communication. The listening temporality allows for the memory interpretation option. Normally, in a healthcare setting, the actual words of a patient aid the health care provider to recall similar cases. However, not only are the words used that help in recalling but also the interpretation time matters a lot. Even the real-time interpretation lengthens the communication timeline. For instance, a healthcare practitioner may use the time required for interpretation to review the records of the patient but, more disturbingly, the provider may undertake a different task. In this case, the attention of the care provider may be diverted (Mengesha Dune and Perz, 2016).

It is important to note that language is the basic way used by human beings to relate to the world. Language barrier affects the healthcare setting in two ways. First, the meaning of different words entirely relies on how it is used in a particular language (Polzer and Engebretson, 2012). Ideally, variations in a language may lead to variations in thinking and experience. Therefore, the literal interpretation of a word can lead to a different meaning of the translated word from its original language. Secondly, our view of another person’s language may affect our impression of that person (Foronda at el., 2016). Consequently, the healthcare setting, the view of an indigenous patient’s language affects the investigation, the management, and diagnosis. This creates an aspect of subjectivity or for lack of a better word, intentionality.

Interventions for Culturally Safe Care

Therefore, a friendly system that incorporates their cultural language would have been suitable as the clients would feel to be part of the process. As professional nurses, it is essential for us to be sensitive to the contemporary complexity of the system to indigenous Australians. For culturally safe assessment of indigenous Australians, self-determination and empowerment rights dictate the acceptance, position, and variables of their own lifestyles (Truong, Paradies and Priest, 2014).

Dekker (2016) indicates that the provision of language interpreters is a vital approach to enhance the communication of with the indigenous clients who are not able to communicate in English. However, there is a scarcity of interpreters. Dekker (2016) also elaborates that the lack of a suitable cultural interpreting service goes hand in hand with the increased client discontent, poor understanding, poor cooperation and poor relationship between the nurses and clients. In the second instance, the lack of an interpreter resulted in an ineffective health care for the client.


In a nutshell, it is very important to embrace culturally safe practices that address different needs of patients from diverse backgrounds. This essay has discussed some of the cultural safety needs that may differ from the Australian healthcare model and proposed strategies that may help bridge the gap. For instance, effective communication can always enhance the understanding and establishment of trust between the healthcare providers and patients from different cultural backgrounds. Cultural safety aims to counteract the challenges of healthcare professionals by helping them to ignore their own personal beliefs, training, and education in order to embrace the different beliefs and views of the patients and their families.


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