Culturally Competent Care: A Discussion on Haitian Heritage

Subject: Public Health
Pages: 2
Words: 630
Reading time:
3 min


While language barriers are an ongoing concern in dealing with ethnic minorities in the United States, it has come to the attention of academics and practitioners that care providers must demonstrate the capacity to understand the culturally specific needs of minority clients and adjust their approach to care accordingly to achieve enviable results (Park et al., 2011). Using the designated case scenario, the present paper discusses some key dimensions of the Haitian heritage.

Haitian’s Views of Homosexuality

It is clear from the case scenario that Ronald’s HIV-positive status has been occasioned by his engagement in promiscuous homosexual relationships with multiple partners. Indeed, Ronald could not be in a formal homosexual relationship because of his family status, but also due to the Haitian’s community’s view of homosexuality. As a matter of fact, many Haitians view homosexuality as a taboo, implying that homosexuals are stigmatized, closeted, and construed as socially unfit individuals in the Haitian culture (Purnell, 2013). Ronald’s silence on the issue can be explained by the fact that many Haitians neither acknowledge nor discuss homosexual relationships.

Religiosity & Traditionalism

Many Haitians are deeply religious although a sizeable number view voodoo as a fundamental religious component guiding their lives. If Ronald’s parents are religious, they are likely to react with prayers because most religious Haitians believe in the power of prayers to physically heal the sick. The parents may also take Ronald to a church to receive Holy Communion and other sacraments, with the belief that supernatural powers will intervene and heal the sickness. In the event the parents believe in voodoo (deities or spirits who receive their power from God), they will turn to worshiping these spirits through female voodoo priests (mambo) and male voodoo priests (hougan). In exercising culturally competent care, it is important for care providers to know that many Haitians have a deep conviction in the ability of these deities and spirits to relieve them of illness (Purnell, 2013).

Addressing Culturally Congruent Strategies

There exist many culturally congruent strategies that care providers may want to consider in designing HIV-prevention practices for consumption by the Haitian community. It is important to note that culturally competent care is premised on how best providers are able to deal with the known culturally congruent aspects that inform or affect the day-to-day interactions and relationships in a particular minority group (Like, 2011).

Flowing from this description, it is clear that any HIV prevention practice targeting the Haitian community must address the aspect of punctuality because Haitians are not committed to time or schedule, not mentioning that they perceive time as a flexible component (Purnell, 2013). Consequently, care providers must be cognizant of the fact that they must manipulate time if their HIV prevention programs are to run on schedule. For example, a program starting at 8.00 AM must be indicated as starting at 7.30 AM because it is not impolite in the Haitian culture for someone to arrive late for an appointment.

The second aspect is spatial distancing, which implies the distance that individuals keep from each other while communicating (Like, 2011). Care providers must understand that they must keep a comfortable distance while interacting with Haitians even though members interact at very close distances (1-2 feet) with friends and family. Care providers must also desist from addressing adult Haitians in the presence of children because the adults are uncomfortable to share space with children (Purnell, 2013).

Lastly, the care providers need to address the issue of openness. In this aspect, they should realize that most Haitians are unwilling to express their emotions unless they are sure about the level of trust in the relationship (Purnell, 2013). Since HIV/AIDS is a highly emotional issue, providers must therefore cultivate sustainable trust with individuals attending HIV programs to be effective in care delivery.


Like, R.C. (2011). Educating clinicians about cultural competence and disparities in health and healthcare. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 31(3), 196-206.

Park, M., Chesla, C.A., Rehm, R.S., & Chun, K.M. (2011). Working with culture: Culturally appropriate mental health care for Asian Americans. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 67(11), 2373-2382.

Purnell, L.D. (2013). Transcultural health care: A culturally competent approach (4th ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.