Ethnicity, traditional healing practices, and attitudes towards complementary medicine of a pediatric oncology population receiving healing touch in Hawaii
Cultural competence among healthcare providers is becoming increasingly important. Hawai'i is an ethnically diverse island state that has a high rate of traditional and complementary medicine use. We previously reported on the feasibility of delivering Healing Touch (HT) to pediatric oncology patients, and its impact on pain, distress and fatigue. Our current objective is to examine the ethnic and cultural characteristics of this patient population, including traditional health related beliefs.
Demographic data and feedback from subjects and their families from the 2009-2010 HT study conducted in Honolulu were analyzed.
The majority of the participants were Asian American and/or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. Almost half of the participants were more than one race. Traditional cultural health related beliefs, as reported by patients and families, sometimes aligned with patient's experiences with HT, however, degree of acculturation/time living in the United States seemed to play a role as well, with younger generation perhaps being less "traditional". Common health related themes/values across the predominant cultures were 1) emphasis on family/clan and 2) mind/body connection.
HT appeared to be well accepted by subjects from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Several patients had attitudes/beliefs around healthcare that were rooted in their traditional cultural values, but this was not universal. Knowledge of different cultural attitudes on health, and traditional/complementary medicine, will improve patient care. Future areas of research could examine the acceptance of HT among pediatric oncology patients in geographic areas with differing cultural demographics (i.e., continentalUnited States or internationally).