Cultural Competence in the Healthcare of Australia and Portugal

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 12
Words: 3409
Reading time:
12 min
Study level: College

Major Demographics of Australia and Portugal


In the analysis of the Australian demographics, the understanding of various variables is critical, including the cities, the culture, and religion of the populace, and fundamental statistics. All these have a role to play as far as enhancing the health of the people is concerned. As of 22 September 2013, the countries bureau of statistics approximated that the population close to twenty-three million people. World data shows that the country is the 52nd in terms of popularity, with a majority of individuals residing in urban areas. By the year 2030, the population of the country is expected to rise to at least twenty-eight million. When the Britons first settled in the country, the population was simply three-fifty thousand people, which was in 1788. The country is attractive to many people and it has experienced constant migration. Life expectancy is high meaning that the government values the lives of people. An individual is expected to live until the age of seventy-nine, which is considered one of the highest in the world. The country has at least five cities that are well known all over the world, with an estimated population of at least one million per city. The population density is of many cities is less than 2.91/km meaning that the cities are less densely populated as compared to other cities in the world. The CIA World Fact book and the Australian Bureau of Statistics report that the country has experienced steady growth in population (Singer, 2007).

The age structure is also well distributed, with individuals over fifty years being 11.8 percent. The able population, which is between twenty-five years and fifty-four, is the majority, with a population percentage of 42.2 percent. Teenagers make up eighteen percent of the population. The median age of the population is approximately thirty-seven years, with the average age of males being thirty-six years while that of females is thirty-eight. Available data indicate that the population growth rate of the country is 1.7% meaning that at least one child is born every minute and forty-four seconds. Unfortunately, at least one person dies after every three minutes and thirty-two seconds. As mentioned above, the country is attractive to many individuals hence the migration is believed to be taking place every minute, with at least one person entering the country after two minutes and nineteen seconds. Based on this, the population grows every minute, with an addition of one person after every one minute and twenty-three seconds, which might be through birth or migration. The population residing in urban areas is approximated to be eighty-nine percent while the rate of urbanization is 1.2%.

Infant mortality rates in the country are low owing to the fact that the country is one of the developed in the world. It is approximated that at least five out of one-thousand die each day, with males dying mostly (5.08) as compared to females (4.4). It is established that life expectancy in the country is very high, with individuals living up to the age of eighty-two. Females live longer than women whereby they are expected to be alive until the age of 84.15 years as compared to males, who only live up to the age of 79.99 years. This is considered a high figure when compared to the world demographics whereby life expectancy is only seventy. The fertility rate is also high, with 1.969 children being born every minute. HIV prevalence in the country is low as compared to other developed countries. Among adults, the rate of prevalence is approximated to be 0.2% as of 2007. The number of people living with AIDs are only eighteen thousand, with less than two hundred deaths reported each year. At least twenty-four percent of the population consists of foreigners, with the United Kingdom being the country with the majority of migrants.

Regarding cultural and religious beliefs, the country is known to be a circular state meaning that it is rich in terms of culture. When it comes to offering services, it is advisable that a healthcare professional understands the cultural practices of any population well if he or she is to offer quality and culturally competent services. However, Christianity is the dominant religion in the country, the Roman Catholic being the main denomination, accounting for at least 25.8 percent. Anglican is the second most popular religion in the country whereby at least 18.7 percent of the population subscribes to its principles. Other Christian religious groups account for at least 19.4 percent. Minor religious groups, such as Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism account for 2.1, 1.7, 0.7, and 0.4 respectively. Available data indicate that English is the most populous language in the country. Other languages spoken by the minorities include Italian, Greek, Spanish, and Chinese. The literacy level in the country is quite high, with at least fifteen years being the minimum age that an individual is expected to read and write. Literacy levels are often related to health and wellbeing in a significant way, as a highly literate population is always healthy.


Portugal is one of the developed counties in the European country, with the government providing for its citizens the major health needs. The population of the country is approximately over ten million, with the natives being the majority. Just like Australia, the able population, which is between twenty-five and fifty years, is the majority consisting of at least forty-two years. In the able population, the number of males is over two million while that of females is approximately two million as well, even though the number of males is slightly higher. In the age bracket of 0-14, the males are nine-hundred thousand while females are eight-hundred, with the total number making up at least sixteen percent of the entire population. Individuals within the category of fifteen and twenty-four years makes up eleven percent of the population, with males being at least six-hundred thousand while females are above fifty-hundred thousand. Unfortunately, the number of the old individuals is higher in Portugal as compared to Australia, which is impediment to economic development. The government spends a considerable amount in providing the old with basic health services, such as taking care of them. The average age of the Portuguese population is forty years, females being the majority (42.6) as compared to men (38.3).

The birth rate is high as at least ten out of one-thousand are newborn babies. The death rate is also high since at least eleven people out of one-thousand die each year. Unlike Australia, Portugal is not attractive to foreign migration since only three migrants out of an approximated one-thousand people enter the country. A considerable number of the population prefers engaging in agriculture since only sixty-one percent of the population is urban dwellers. The urban areas are densely populated as compared to the Australian towns, with each town having a population of at least two million. The death rate is high with at least five out of pone-thousand deaths reported each time.

Factors that may impact the health of Australia and Portugal

A number of factors are known to interfere with the wellbeing of the population, irrespective of the country of origin, race, religion, or culture. The health of any population is determined by factors such as life expectancy, the infant mortality rates, the death rates, the level of disability, the quality of life, self-evaluated health, and he level of happiness within a population. Studies indicate that socio-economic factors affect the health of the population a significant way. This means that healthcare systems and the behavior of an individual tend to contribute little to the wellbeing of an individual. For instance, social stratification is an impediment to the individual fulfillment of health needs. The society stratifies a population in such a way that only those at the top are able to access the basic health services. In fact, a study conducted on the United States proved that the greater the gap between the rich and the poor, the poor the health of the population. However, this factor seems not to affect the health of many Australians and Portuguese, as the gap between the rich and the poor is minimal when compared to the gaps in the developing countries. For a population living under a dollar, it would be difficult for individuals to seek the services of the health professionals, as this would constrain their limited budget further. Therefore, the government has a role to play in promoting the health of individuals by ensuring that the gap between the rich and the poor is reduced. In Australia, the migrants tend to suffer from extreme poverty, as the government is yet to come up with extensive program to ensure that their health needs are met. In Portugal, some communities are still living under a dollar meaning that they are unable to achieve their health needs.

Hierarchy is another factor that does not favor the health of the population. It refers to the political, economic, and social status of various groups within the population. In the analysis of social hierarchy, consideration of the race, gender, and education is critical because they are directly related. In societies that value and insist on egalitarianism, the health standards are often high since the gap between the rich and the poor is always reduced. Fortunately, Portugal and Australia are egalitarian societies that value the social needs of the population, but the major barrier to quality health is capitalism. In the class societies, the poor receive poor health services while quality health is a reserve of the rich. In such societies, there exist two sets of health services, with the poor receiving the low quality service. If the population is in a position to provide some of the basic needs, chances are high that health standards would be high. Based on this, poverty is considered one of the barriers to better health. In class societies, the rate at which people help each other is minimal. Rarely do individuals form relationships, as many people are concerned with their daily businesses. In such societies, cases of psychological problems are high and the cases of madness are high. In ordered societies, the rates of crime are high and environmental conservation efforts are low (Todd, 2007). In these societies, people care less about their safety and the surrounding, which is dangerous to community health.

The structure of society has a strong correlation with health. In trying to establish whether a group is a safe, several indicators, including life expectancy and infant mortality rates are applied. Additionally, the health of the population is established through analyzing other related to factors, such as education and the economic levels. Based on this, the two countries are performing dismally as the literacy levels are still below par. In Portugal for instance, the population still depends on the government to provide basic health services meaning that if the government were to collapse the population would suffer. Moreover, the services that the government offers are not always of high quality meaning that people are forced to seek government services due to lack of better options. The economic crisis that has hit various governments has a direct impact on the health of individuals. In the two countries, the levels of cohesion are low since societal members rarely form groups that would help them in accomplishing health needs. Social capital refers to the structures of society that help members in realizing their needs. In the two countries, social capital does not exist, which jeopardizes the health of the population (Purnell, 2012).

Finally, political factors affect the health of individuals in the sense that the government is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that strong policies are formulated to cater for the health needs of population. If the government is reluctant to formulate policies that promote health, the population will have nothing to do, but to go through the challenges. The governments of the two countries have been trying to help their populations realize their potentials, but much has to be done to ensure that each individual is safe.

Overview of health care systems

A brief review of the healthcare systems of the two countries reveal that technology should be employed to ensure that the population accesses better health. Generally, the two governments are trying to do everything under their control to satisfy the health needs of the population, but much effort is needed. Various reasons exist as to why the two states should reconsider using database in managing their healthcare systems. The application of database in management of data in healthcare facilities is critical to the extent that an organization cannot achieve its desired goals without effective adoption. For instance, it takes advantage of in transmitting information from one source to the other meaning that it offers an answer to the conventional storage systems, which were unproductive and disorganized. The innovative data storage system would permit microsecond reply to messages, which translates to less memory utilization for the large workloads. This is known to reduce catalog pre-core documentation expenses. Record storage system allows quicker report manufacturing and concurrent dispensation of information on larger pieces of information, which steps up a variety of appliances by up to twenty times the standard rate. This would absolutely strengthen the performance of the healthcare systems, as well as the productivity of the workforce.

The utilization of business astuteness in improving healthcare systems in the two countries could be the other way of improving service delivery in the sector. Application of business intelligence in promoting healthcare entails the utilization of software referred to as TIBCO BPM, which enables the organization to save resources that would recruit up to one-hundred human resources. Through the software, excellent service and cost-efficiency would be achieved since the main intention of any organization is to decrease the costs of manufacturing and achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace. For more rapidly managerial and policy formulation processes, the need for business intelligence is unavoidable. The software permits data administration, assessment, and dispensation hence allowing the detection of delicate links within the healthcare system for purposes of optimizing efficiency in order to apprehend the operational benefit in the market.

Use of data mart is another aspect of database management, which plays a role in the release of new information. It would perhaps be the most preferred in the healthcare sector within the two countries. Data mart refers to the access layer that is often employed in data warehouse surrounding whose major role is to disseminate data to other users. Based on this, it is always allied to a particular healthcare system line or team of managers since they serve an important role in the organization. Since the data mart contains limited information that is specific to a particular department or section, the marketing department of the organization is expected to own it. Therefore, it will be in charge of the hardware, software, and data itself. The healthcare professionals will have the opportunity to manipulate the data to suit the increasing demands of the customers. Any piece of information should have at least five features, including, in order of importance accuracy, completeness, consistency, uniqueness, and timelines (Reeve, & Peerbhoy, 2007). For any piece of information to be considered of high quality, it ought to be accurate and useful. Moreover, such information should be reliable for it to meet the needs of the organization. Completeness means that any piece of information should not be partial, as it would mislead various stakeholders. When inputting information into the database, it ought to be complete to prevent distortion.

The application of technology in managing healthcare systems implies the deployment of the website that could simply be restructured to give an idea about the requested data in the best way possible. Since the organization offers a unique type of service, it can apply this type of the website as it updates customers on the best offer in the market each second.

Common Cultural Values

It is factual that the American healthcare system is based on various dominant European American cultural standards, philosophies, and practices. Some of these values differ in a number of ways with those of other dominant groups, such as Portuguese who make up a considerable number of the population. Cultural differences might bring about conflicts in formulation of healthcare policies if care is not taken meaning that the health care professional has the role of ensuring that a comprehensive strategy is derived in order to incorporate the values and beliefs of all groups. The culture of Portuguese differs from those of the Australia in five major ways. For instance, the family is the basic institution of the society among Portuguese, but the case is different with Australians who value work than their family lives. Portuguese tend to give their families priorities when engaging in any form of interaction. When a child is born, celebrations are undertaken to mark the beginning of the new journey in life. The role of women is to take care of children while men are sole brad winners (Purnell, 2012). In this regard, social mobility is limited whereas it is common among Australia. The major religion of the Portuguese is Catholic having been influenced by the Spanish during colonialism while Australians are mostly secular meaning that they exercise various religions.

The culture of the Portuguese teaches them to be nationalistic, but Australians are always obsessed with patriotism meaning that they proud of the existing ways of life. Based on this, Portuguese rarely separate personal life from work, which implies that the family is the main socializing agent, as it controls the life of the individual even in adulthood (Garrett, 2007). Therefore, an individual would work hard to avoid criticism and confrontation from other family members. Australians are known to be scientific meaning that they rarely involve emotions in making major organizational decisions. In their daily lives, Portuguese believe that dressing has a role to play, especially in relation to performance at work. Dressing and well grooming are valued principles that elevate an individual’s status in society (Singer, 2007). For Australians, dress code and appearance means nothing, as performance is always given priority.

Role of Healthcare Professional

One of the best strategies in addressing cultural challenges is accepting diversity meaning that healthcare professionals ought to appreciate the fact that the majority should have their way, but the minorities have a say. Through this, conflicts would be resolve in the best way possible. For instance, the issue of dressing code that arises between Australian and Portuguese is best addressed through allowing each group to practice their code. In the healthcare institutions, the management should not attempt to introduce a certain policy that calls on people to drop their modes of dressing in favor of the newly introduced (Garrett, 2007). Additionally, appreciation of cultural diversity would resolve the issue on the political culture. While Australians are nationalistic, Mexican Americans are patriotic. Therefore, healthcare organizations should consider this fact when drawing the organization’s aims, objectives, and policy statement. The vision should not reflect on the patriotic ideals, neither should it be based on nationalism since this would dissatisfy one group. Culture can unite people or it can as well act the main cause of unprecedented conflicts.

Based on the views of several researchers, medication error is one of the most popular errors in the modern medicine profession, with some studies approximating that the National Health Service loses an approximated five-hundred million each year owing to the additional days that a patient spends in hospital. Studies suggest further that errors result to serious problems and medical complications in the intensive care units, even though studies specializing on this section are few. In broad sense, studies identify at least three forms of errors in medical reporting, including prescription of medicine, dispensing drugs, and errors associated with administration (Dreachslin, Gilbert, & Malone, 2013). Scholars employ accident causation mode as a valid theory to explain why errors come about in the medical professional, but the theory is never applied in understanding the sources of errors in intensive care units. The studies reveal further that the methods and systems used in reporting errors are generally poor in many health organizations. The organizations are requested to come up mechanism that would ensure errors are dealt with adequately, as the current ones are insufficient. Based on this, the role of any nurse should be to report any error that might interfere with the wellbeing of the patient.


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Garrett, L. (2007). The Challenge of Global Health. Foreign Affairs, 2(1), 14–38.

Purnell, L. (2012). Transcultural health care: A culturally competent approach. Philadelphia: F A Davis.

Reeve, J., & Peerbhoy, D. (2007). Evaluating the evaluation: Understanding the utility and limitations of evaluation as a tool for organizational learning. Health Education Journal, 66(2), 120–131.

Singer, P.A. (2007). Grand Challenges in Global Health: The Ethical, Social, and Cultural Program. PLoS Med, 4(9), 90-112.

Todd, D. (2007). GEF Evaluation Office Ethical Guidelines. Washington, DC: Global Environment Facility Evaluation Office.