Diversity in Haitian Culture and Attitudes toward U.S. Health System

Religious Origins.


Haiti culture is informed by multi-cultural influences. Religious traditions are grounded in Voodoo and Roman Catholicism. The melding of these two different belief systems arose when Voodoo was imported by African Congolese slaves. It soon became cross-bred with French and Spanish settlers' Christian practices.

Music Origins

Haiti's musical traditions have derived from Voodoo, Afro-Cuban, and Creole jazz-roots genres.

Food Origins

Food is French- and Spanish-sourced, consisting of legumes, yams, tropical fruits such as mangoes and bananas, and protein sources such as goat.

Cultural Behaviors and Responses to Modern Health Care

Haitian attitudes toward the U.S. health-care system are indicated by socio-economic status, and surface whenever the poorest of them seeks medical treatment. Health-care practitioners have learned to identify whom they are dealing with, in order to render non-threatening and effective treatment. Urban Haitian immigrants fare better than rural transplants in adapting to the American system of medical care.

Haitian peasants hold certain beliefs about illnesses of the mind and body. For example:

• Pain as experienced by them is unlocalized and diffused.

• Symptoms are not recognized as rational indicators of illness.

• Disfigurements are attributable to evil spirits set upon them by their enemies.

• Psychiatric treatment is considered unsatisfactory unless accompanied by a physical examination.

• Medical transport systems such as wheelchairs are thought to imply life-threatening illnesses.

• Illnesses engender feelings of helplessness no matter how mild or benign its symptoms.

The biggest obstacle to effective treatment is the language barrier. Not enough interpreters speak Creole.

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