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Culture as a Social Determinant of Health

Culture is one of the most significant factors in the populations’ health. It refers to how different individuals have been shaped to live their lives. Culture has a strong influence over the acts carried out by different people. Individual thinking is affected by the culture they come from. Some people turn stereotypical and accept change since they stick to a certain way of believing (Nixon, 2019). Across the world, most people are compelled to follow the beliefs that affect them, as long as they do not break the cradle they have been taught to follow. The world is affected by the cultural norms that individuals are forced to follow daily. The cultural observances are taught to the people in schools, churches, and homes to a point where they are conceived as the beliefs that dictate daily life. It is hard for one to change and embrace new beliefs with the underlying consequences. The observance of the doctrines controls every aspect of an individual’s life, making it hard to change and conceive new ways.

The doctrines are taught from a young age when the children have no other option than to follow them to the latter. With other rules of listening to the elders and respecting the parents, the children are forced to follow all the doctrines or face the consequences. With time they are conceived to be the way individuals lead their life. Some of the churches attribute illnesses to failure to follow the doctrines given. When one of their people is sick, they may go to the church, temple, or mosque to pray for forgiveness instead of going to the hospital to seek medication (Knibb-Lamouche, 2012). The perception is mostly led by the consequences when they decide to go against the doctrines. Some people firmly believe that one can die at home with a given illness instead of taking the person to the church for prayer. The prayers can play a significant role in the healing, but seeking medication is also a viable idea that should be taken in such cases, such as the Justine Chitsena case.

Justine Chitsena needs surgery for a congenital heart defect. Still, her mother and grandmother, refugees from Laos, are worried that their son will be affected and her reincarnation will be affected. The two have to seek information from the local Buddhist, who should tell them whether that is right or wrong. Laos is a small landlocked nation bordered by China, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand. The region is widely affected by traditions from the ancient and follows them closely as they focus on passing the traditions to the other individuals. All of their decisions are shaped by religion. The belief that individuals reincarnate after death follows the doctrines closely since they do not want to miss being with their family members after death. Buddhism has affected them to the point where they cannot see on the other side of life.

Their important belief and worry are in the reincarnation that they wish Justine to be back well. They do not see the challenge that needs medical care. For a long, the people of Laos have believed that the most important thing to them is their prayer and the religious rules and regulations control their daily actions. On health, they believe that one can heal through the prayers at the temple (Knibb-Lamouche, 2012). They do not see the essence of going to the hospital when all can be done in the charges, and one will be alright. The perspective was long created even before they came into existence, and they are forced to follow them.

Some people grow up knowing that religions are the only perspective that is right and should be followed. The doctrines of healing by going to the temple cannot be changed easily since the start of many people’s lives; it was the only idea presented. The aspect that should be blamed is the place they are born. They bear a difference from those raised in the United States as they have been exposed to a different way of life since they were young (Knibb-Lamouche, 2012). The place bears a significant impression on the thinking of different individuals. It is easier for one to change their culture when they are in a location that presents them with numerous options than growing up in Laos, where individuals only know going to the church had a greater role in their being. Most of Laos face the challenge of believing in the religious doctrines that come with Buddhism. The religious discipline does not give individuals a chance to think out of the concept of the disciplines articulated. There is no room to think out of the idea that the medication can be seemed in hospitals without altering their beliefs. The outcome of the belief is likely to lead to Justine Chitsena’s death if the heart defect is not corrected. At the same time, if the Buddhist does not accept the request to go to the hospital, they will have to take Justine to the temple instead of a hospital. The mother and the grandmother are angry at the daughter’s request to take Justine to the hospital, thinking that the hospital is the wrong idea leaves Justine with only one option: death.


The doctrines taught by different religions across the world have a strong impression on the conduct of the people. Some of the doctrines go against seeking medication from the hospitals. It is hard for individuals to change and impose other beliefs on different individuals Walker, 2021). These doctrines have a major impact on the children since they do not have a chance to decide. The parents choose what happens to their children. Since they decide for their children, going to the hospitals is not an option. They will have to take them to the mosque for prayer since they have seen their parents go to the temple when seeking medication. It is important to understand that most people face challenges from the old and lack of control over the doctrines; hence, they have to follow all the beliefs to the end. Accepting that the doctrines affect the people’s wellbeing is one of the ways that they can be ready to have their perspective changed for their betterment (Yeager & Bauer-Wu, 2013). As far as health is important compared to cultural constraints, tough choices have to be made to better those in need.


Knibb-Lamouche, J. (2012). Culture as a social determinant of health. Commissioned paper prepared for the Institute on Medicine, Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities, Seattle, WA.

Nixon, S. A. (2019). The coin model of privilege and critical allyship: implications for health. BMC Public Health19(1), 1-13.

Walker, D. K. (2021). Parenting and social determinants of health. Archives of psychiatric nursing35(1), 134-136.

Yeager, K. A., & Bauer-Wu, S. (2013). Cultural humility: Essential foundation for clinical researchers. Applied Nursing Research26(4), 251-256.


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