Essay Sample on Religion and Medicine

Published: 2023-02-22
Essay Sample on Religion and Medicine
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Medicine Religion Ethical dilemma Social issue
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 979 words
9 min read

Religion and culture form an integral part of the human ways of life. Since people highly value their customs and religion, an activity that tends to compromise these respectable life aspects tends to face rejection. Such is the case with Hmong culture and western medicine. The Hmong people, have lived within the US for a considerable time and continues to honor and follow their traditions that do not conform to medicine. These people strongly believe in their traditional healthcare as well as rituals performed in their country of origin. Medics who have little or no knowledge about these rituals and beliefs find difficulties in providing healthcare to the culturally sensitive Hmong community.

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A Hmong family relocated to the Californian city in 1980. The Lee family had a young daughter who suffered seizures at the age of three months. The child later got a diagnosis in epilepsy, a condition that led to differing opinions between the medical staff and the family. Fadiman began his research on the issue in 1988 and published the story in 1977. The book title described epilepsy as a spirit that makes the patient fall on the attack as the Hmong people believed. The author evaluates both sides of the story, emphasizing the collision between the medical personnel and Lee's family, taking considerations on the Hmong culture and their experiences in the United States (Fadiman, 1997). The book takes a closer look at the story illustrating different notions on what entails good patient-doctor relationships as well as the repercussions of staining the association(Fadiman, 1997). The collision between Lia's epilepsy and the medics poses no easy solution where blame on the outcome exists. The case study illustrates the significance of identifying and asserting differences in culture impacts the results of health care.

Much of the story delves into compliance. A tense situation exists between the Lia physicians and the family for failing to comply with the drug regime established. Lee's family fails to follow the established method of medication to manage seizures that leads to severe complications putting the life of the patient at risk. The medics resolved to take the child away with them for proper management. Different challenges existed in handling the case, including changing the medication regime for effective treatment as well as poor communication for complicated instructions due to the language barrier between the two parties.

Compliance, however, not only failed from the language barrier but also lack of adherence. Even when Lee's family understood the instructions, they ignored the child's cause of disease as well as the solution. The Hmong believed epilepsy originated from the spiritual roots. Besides, Lee's family thought their child needed a combination of spiritual intervention and western medicine. The parents also found the medication expensive and resolved in splitting dosage to last for a reasonable period.

Medical professionals believe compliance entails patients adhering to guidelines and instructions given to them (Pinho, Azevedo, Park, Hamza, Farkouh & Lamy, 2018). However, it is critical accounting that patients follow well-understood instructions. Additionally, we must take compliance at a deeper level by appreciating the patient needs agreeing to comply. The caretaker or patient needs agreeing with the medic in the nature of disease as well as solutions to the problem for instruction following (Youhung, & Schroepfer, 2017). In case of cultural differences such as the Hmong family and the medics, compliance may become complicated.

Since I also belong to a culture with shared beliefs that may not necessarily agree with those of some patients, it is my responsibility to allow a mutual understanding between us exists. Learning is critical on both sides to understand such beliefs that may affect the outcome of the medication at hand. The professional must take time to learn the opinions of different cultures one offers services. Interests and biased emotions need special consideration to understand their views on the available regimes. The health professional should opt for the method least to cause noncompliance by the patient.

The Hmong case reveals the need to understand the difference between disease and illness in different cultural contexts and health care. According to Kleinman et al., illness and disease explain models of sickness, where the latter describes the abnormalities in the body while illness is the disvalued experienced by the patient (Kleinman, Eisenberg &Good, 1978). For example, amputation and replacement may seem like the primary end to a problem by a prosthetist, while the patient sees it as a disruption of social capability. In such a situation lies a collision between the health professional and the patient. Kleiman et al., seem to be describing the physicians and Lee family when stating, "solutions offered by physicians may fail curing disease despite proper pharmacological action if a patient does not follow the regime for lack of understanding its mode of action" (Kleinan et al., 1978). Understanding the experience of sickness by the patients is critical in enabling decision making to alleviate it.

The Hmong situation ought to have brought better outcomes if the family understood the nature of epilepsy. The doctors should have taken time to educate the patients and could understand given had decided to attend hospital. Compliance is dependent on the patient agrees to follow the instructions provided.


Fadiman, A. (1997). The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Kleinman, A., L. Eisenberg, and B. Good. 1978. Culture, illness, and care: clinical lessons from anthropologic and cross-cultural research. Annals of Internal Medicine 88(2):251-8.

Pinho-Gomes, A. C., Azevedo, L., Ahn, J. M., Park, S. J., Hamza, T. H., Farkouh, M. E., ... & Lamy, A. (2018). Compliance with guideline-directed medical therapy in contemporary coronary revascularization trials. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 71(6), 591-602.

Youhung, H. & Schroepfer, T. (2017). Walking in Two Words: Hmong End of Life Beliefs & Rituals. Journal of Social Work in End of Life & Palliative Care. 14(4)

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