Chinese and Guatemalan Heritage and Health Beliefs

Being a multi-national country, the United States is home to people of different ethnical backgrounds and diverse cultures. They brought their heritage from native countries and, despite partial assimilation, it continues to influence different aspects of their lives including health care. This paper provides an overview of Chinese and Guatemalan heritage, their typical health care beliefs, and their influence on the delivery of evidence-based health care.

Health Care Beliefs of Chinese and Guatemalan Heritages

Chinese people in their health care beliefs can be, probably, divided into two groups. A significant part of the Chinese adopted Western medicine while the other part still follows traditional Chinese medicine (Purnell, 2014). The majority of young people would visit allopathic health-care providers. At the same time, the older population prefers traditional Chinese health practices. Curiously, both groups change their minds when the selected treatment strategy does not help.

Thus, when Western medicine is not effective, the younger population returns to traditional methods and vice versa, older people who usually apply traditional treatment methods, seek help in Western medicine. A particular feature is that frequently people continue practicing traditional Chinese medicine even while receiving treatment at a healthcare facility. Moreover, they conceal this fact from healthcare providers (Purnell, 2014).

It is a common practice to consult relatives or friends about health-related issues. A core component in explaining mental and physical health in Chinese heritage is the balance between yin and yang (Brannon, Feist, & Brannon, 2014). Therefore, their imbalance is considered to be a cause of mental and physical disabilities.

Guatemalan people belong to the Hispanic/Latino population of the United States. Latino people are concerned about their health and prefer more radical treatment methods believing they are more effective. For example, when having a serious cold or influenza, a Latino person will choose a hypodermic injection or intravenous infusion for the successful treatment (Purnell, 2014). Nevertheless, Guatemalan people have certain peculiarities of health-seeking behavior.

Thus, the first people to address in case of illness are a mother, a grandmother, or another meaningful older adult (Purnell, 2014). Only when the family care is not effective, a person is likely to seek help from folk healers. Contemporary health care is the last alternative a Guatemalan person will select. It can be explained that due to the lack of trust in Western medicine, people get to hospitals in critical conditions, which frequently leads to lethal outcomes. Therefore, Guatemalans are afraid of hospitals as places where people come to die (Purnell, 2014).

The major similarity in healthcare behaviors of Chinese and Guatemalan people is their focus on traditional medical practices. Both populations prefer addressing folk healers instead of visiting a healthcare provider. Another similarity is their treatment of health and illness. Both Chinese and Guatemalan people consider illness to be a result of some imbalance. Finally, both populations consider family to be important in health care issues.

The Impact of Beliefs on the Delivery of Evidence-Based Health Care

Health beliefs and practices of different ethnical groups influence the delivery of evidence-based health care. One of the barriers in providing effective care for Chinese people is that even in case of complying with Western medical care, older people still practice traditional Chinese medicine and do not inform their health-care providers. It can be dangerous because some treatments cannot be used simultaneously. Another obstacle in health care delivery to the Chinese is their perception and explanation of pain. They usually describe pain through different body symptoms, which can make the diagnosing process more complicated (Purnell, 2014).

It is common for Chinese people to hide their disabilities. Moreover, people frequently accept their illnesses and are passive without attempts to find treatment. Much attention is given to such traditional practices as acupuncture and moxibustion (Purnell, 2014). Moreover, Chinese people sometimes consider diagnostic tests such as glucose tolerance or ultrasonography to be dangerous and refuse to perform them. They believe, for example, that blood is a part of their irreplaceable vital energy and do not allow blood tests thus making diagnosing complicated and less precise (Giger, 2013).

The major problem with the Guatemalan population in delivering health care is that they seek help already in a critical condition. In case of illness, disease, or injury, they prefer addressing folk healers until it is evident that they are not effective.

Consequently, it is not always possible to guarantee positive patient outcomes, which contributes to further development of mistrust of Western medicine. Such behavior is partially explained by their treatment of health and illness. Guatemalans consider themselves “healthy” as long as they can perform their functions (Purnell, 2014). Another obstacle in delivering evidence-based health care to the Guatemalan population is their preference for home care instead of being administered to a hospital. Finally, Guatemalans are suspicious about such practices of contemporary medicine as blood transfusions and organ donation, and thus resist these interventions.


On the whole, Chinese and Guatemalan people follow the health-seeking behaviors of other minority groups. They share a typical preference of folk healers until the situation is serious enough to visit a healthcare provider. Still, the Chinese demonstrate more compliance to the contemporary treatment methods compared to Guatemalans. Finally, both heritages pay attention to the concept of balance as the source of harmony and health.


Brannon, L., Feist, J., & Brannon, L. (2014). Health psychology: An introduction to behavior and health (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Giger, J. N. (2013). Transcultural nursing: Assessment and intervention (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Purnell, L. D. (2014). Guide to culturally competent health care (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.

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