Cuban-American Culture: Nursing

Subject: Public Health
Pages: 6
Words: 1653
Reading time:
6 min

Cuban-Americans are individuals who are born and raised in America and whose parents are of Cuban ancestry. In the United States of America, there are a number of Hispanic groups although Cuban-Americans form the third largest group (Purnell, 2013). Americans born of Cuban ancestry are however considered Native Americans especially those who are born and raised in the country. Compared to all the states in the United States, Miami and Florida are the most populated with the Cuban-American people. This can be attributed to their proximity to the Cuban nation.

Morality and values

The Cuban-American culture is characterized by strong moral values and parental control. Most families of the Cuban ancestry are headed by a male figure either a father or an older male relative. There is great emphasis on the importance of non-nuclear relationships (Purnell, 2013). The godparents who guide and teach cultural virtues to preserve the Cuban cultural beliefs mentor children. Women in the Cuban culture are placed in second position after men. Leadership positions belong to men since women are not allowed to head the family.

Exchanging thoughts, feelings, and ideas

The Cuban-American population is full of educated women, which has also helped the women in being employed in major formal employments. This has helped alleviate the inequality experienced earlier on. The Cuban society loves to live together as a nuclear family hence the grandparents are mostly responsible in the upbringing of the children. This happens when the parents are working away from the homestead. Cases of extramarital relationships are rare among Cuban-Americans owing to the high levels of discipline in the family setup. The family is a respectable unit in the society.

Divorce was in the past a stigma but not anymore in the Cuban-American culture. The Cubans living in America have been influenced by the modern world and a number of them have left the catholic faith, which condemns divorce. This has seen the amount of divorces increase in the Cuban-American society in the recent past. Other compromises made by the Cuban society include a liberal view of abortion, which was initially an abominable activity. In the Cuban culture, it is legal to use contraceptives or any other birth control measures.

A number of features represent cultural touch. Every culture has its own cultural sensitivity or simply the main thing that defines who they are. The differences are seen through communication, and how people relate to one another. The Cuban-American culture is more inclined to close relations between family members. Cubans live a one big community and there is a great brotherhood among them.

Americans with Cuban ancestry are seemingly willing to share thoughts feelings and ideas. Looking at the Cuban society currently, so many values that were held dear have been unraveled and replaced with a more American approach. Some of the social issues such as divorce and abortion were held as taboo. Today, their social consequences are not so strict and Cubans are slowly accepting such ideas. The issue of equality for men and women is also rapidly gaining popularity among the Cuban culture, which was more conservative on the issue.

Different methods of communicating with, friends, family, and strangers

In the Cuban-American culture, a number of ways to communicate are available depending on the person you are communicating with. A formal language is considered in the Cuban culture as a sign of showing respect. Hence, formal language is used while communicating with the elderly and mostly strangers. A handshake is normally used before greeting a person and after wishing them good-bye. Both men and women exchange hugs ‘Abrazos’ with close friends and family and often a kiss on the cheek is a sign of friendship (University of Washington Medical Center, 2007).

While addressing a stranger, some words like ‘Mi Vida’, which means my life, are used. This is a polite way to address a stranger and when she is a woman, it is more appropriate to address her as ‘Mi Amor’, which means ‘my love’. Friends and family as mentioned are better greeted with a hug or a kiss on the cheek (Grieco & Cassidy, 2001). All of these cultural standards are established in a Cuban child while he or she is still young.

Importance and use of eye contact with, friends, family, and strangers

In my culture, making eye contact while holding a conversation is a sign of sincerity. However, women are deemed to lower their eyes while talking to a male as a sign of politeness (Purnell, 2013). Young people especially children also are expected to lower their eyes while addressing the older folks. This signifies respect and submission to the authority bestowed on the older generation. Strangers, depending on their age group, the use of eye contact plays just the same as it does to family and friends (University of Washington Medical Center, 2007). Avoiding eye contact in some instances may be regarded a sign of dishonesty and one can be perceived to be lying.

Different gesture and signs used by Americans of Cuban ancestry

Cuban-Americans like any other society use some communication patterns that are unique to them. In our culture, we focus mostly on the gestures and facial expressions of a person when having a conversation. For example, it is regarded as a rude action to step back while talking to a person (Carmen, Bernadette, & Jessica, 2006). While having a conversation, Cubans tend to move closer to the other party that is why stepping back is considered rude. Cuban-Americans mostly communicate on an emotional level rather than a physical level (Glenn, 2000). Nonverbal communications form a significant percentage of our communication culture (University of Washington Medical Center, 2007). We love physical contact while conversing as well as hands and body movements, which help the listener to understand better.

Physical appearance tells much about what a person means. Voice pitch and sound also express a different meaning, perception, and are vital for effective communication. Cuban-Americans are well known for using sounds to express their emotions. Touch is a vital way of showing that you understand and care about what the other party is saying to you (University of Washington Medical Center, 2007). Body odor and cologne are used to express one’s personality. Voice pitch and volume is characteristic of the Cuban-Americans. In fact, they are known for talking too loud and they do not mind talking all at the same time. To get the attention of a group, they outdo each other by raising their voices.

Impacts of Cuban-American culture of nursing

Some of the major challenges concerning Cuban-Americans health are the low number of Hispanic health practitioners. Very few individuals of the Cuban ancestry are in the health sector (University of Washington Medical Center, 2007). This contributes to the Linguistics problem faced by non-Hispanic health providers. There are also other factors to consider with the low number of physicians of the Cuban ancestry, which include cultural disparities. The language barrier is a major factor although a bigger percentage of the Cuban-Americans speak in fluent English.

The Cuban-Americans have reported many complaints about their doctors not listening to them. This has been influenced greatly by the language barrier and cultural differences. For instance, in Cuban-American culture, saying no to a patient is seen as being unsympathetic and rude. Accessing health services for the Cuban Americans has become a challenge due to the great percentage of the group that is living in poverty. With such huge poverty levels in the regions where Cuban-Americans are the majority, health insurance is not readily and easily accessible.

The cultural beliefs are an obstacle in nursing and health practice as a whole especially if one does not fully understand the culture. As discussed above language barrier is a big challenge in nursing. If a health practitioner does not understand the patient then even administering prescription might be very difficult. This may lead to an increase in the number of deaths out of situations that could have been controlled. In health care, the language barrier is catastrophic and may amount to loss of lives.

Another factor impeding the health of the Cuban-American society is the reliance of traditional healers. Most of them believe in these folk medicines more than the conventional tablets. This is why many of the Americans of Cuban ancestry find their health care from other local medicine men as opposed to finding help from the healthcare facilities available. Some people argue that the cost of health services keeps them away from hospitals but this is not entirely the reason why they turn to the local herbal doctors. Some are just accustomed to it and others are still hanging on their cultural practices.

With the vast cultural disparities between the Cubans and the Americans, heath providers may have a difficult time in providing their service. Cultural barriers may impede the value of services offered in health facilities. Culture has a significant influence on how individuals view their health (Delese, 2003). For efficiency, health providers must be in harmony with patients’ cultural beliefs so that they can understand their needs. It is impossible to have every patient taken care by a health practitioner of the same culture. Therefore, diversity programs to ensure health workers are equipped to deal with all the patients from different cultures are paramount.


Culture disparity may have great and dire impacts on the health of an entire community. To mitigate such occurrences, health workers and practitioners must be well equipped to handle patients of different cultural alienations. For instance, in this case, it is apparent that the ever-increasing population outnumbers the number of health workers of the Cuban descent. Increasing the number of health workers of the Cuban descent may be beneficial in the end. Health care should be provided to all irrespective of their culture and beliefs. By mobilizing and increasing the number of Cubans in the health sector, the problem of the language barrier will be half solved


Carmen, D., Bernadette, P., & Smith, J. (2006). Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States. Current Population Reports, U.S. Census Bureau, 3(2), 12-26.

Delese, W. (2003). Insurgent Multiculturalism: Rethinking How and Why We Teach Culture in Medical Education, Academic Medicine, 78(6), 549-554.

Glenn, F. (2000). Culture and the Patient-Physician Relationship: Achieving Cultural Competency in Health Care. Journal of Pediatrics, 136(2), 14-23.

Grieco, E., & Cassidy, R. (2001). Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin 2000. Census Brief, U.S. Census Bureau, 1(1), 1-3.

Purnell, L. (2013). Transcultural health care: A culturally competent approach. Philadelphia, FA: Davis Co.

University of Washington Medical Center. (2007). Communicating with Your Latino Patient. (2007). Web.