06.02 Care for Asian-Indian Patient Populations

Join NURSING.com to watch the full lesson now.

Included In This Lesson



  1. Asian
    1. Ethnic groups
      1. Largest
        1. Chinese
        2. Indian
        3. Filipino
  2. Asian/Indian
    1. Culture
      1. Religion
        1. Hinduism
          1. Ritual cleansing
          2. Prayer
          3. Karma
      2. Family
        1. Elders are highly respected
        2. Private
        3. Men make decisions
      3. Disease
        1. Imbalance in body
          1. Restoration
            1. Through meditation
            2. Diet
            3. Natural medicine
        2. Result of karma
          1. Treatment is limited
          2. Accept and endure
      4. Treatment practices
        1. Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM)
          1. Herbal remedies
          2. Meditation
          3. Yoga
          4. Diet
            1. Medicinal value
            2. Good health
              1. Vegetarian
              2. Organic foods
            3. Bad health
              1. Fried food
              2. Refrigerated food
              3. Processed food
        2. During the death process
          1. Family present
            1. Chants
            2. Prayer
            3. Light incense
        3. After death
          1. Family cleans body
            1. Wrap in red cloth
    2. In healthcare
      1. Remain formal with elderly
        1. Never use first names
        2. Use titles
      2. Same sex caregivers
        1. Preserve dignity
      3. Limit amount of treatment options
      4. High context communicators
        1. Rely on context
          1. Make connections
          2. Circumstances around message
        2. Avoid close ended questions
          1. Understand
            1. Questions may not be asked
              1. Disrespectful
      5. Body language
        1. Limit eye contact
          1. Direct contact is disrespectful
        2. Watch
          1. Tone
          2. Gestures
      6. Use professional translators when needed


Today we’re going to be talking about Asian/Indian culture.

Asia has several different ethnic groups but these three are the largest. We will be focusing on the Indian group in this lesson.

Asian/Indian culture, like most others have a set of core values and beliefs. There are more, however, these have the largest impact on how we provide care for this population and culture. We will discuss each one of these more specifically as we go through this lesson.

On the religious aspect, most Asian/Indians practice Hinduism. This is a religion whose exact practices and worships changed based on the culture itself. Those things that stay the same are their beliefs in ritual cleansing, which is a purification ritual, karma and prayer. These provide some basis of understanding for us as healthcare providers, so we are not taken back by what we see when we walk into an Asian/Indian patient’s room.

Family is another piece of the culture you may recognize from other cultural lessons. The values here are to hold the elders to the highest respect, mostly right under or equivalent to the deity that region follows. Also, family matters are always kept private to stay honorable. There is no point where you should see any conflict between family members in the Asian/Indian culture. All things are handled behind closed doors. We’ve seen this in other lessons as well where the man is the head of the household and makes all decisions. When it comes to healthcare, there may be some discussion, but the ultimate choice is made by the man.

The Asian/Indian culture believes in balance in the body. In this culture that balance comes from the elements (Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Space), which are believed to be different energies in the mind, body and spirit. These are all connected. For Asian/Indians, the belief is that when there’s an imbalance with these energies, illness occurs. The way to restore that balance is through diet (mostly vegetarian), meditation and natural medicines. On the contrary to this belief, the other cause of illness is karma. An illness caused by karma is not likely to be treated, so the person suffering will have to accept it and endure.

Most Asian/Indians experience delays in treatment because they prefer to consult family or try CAM therapy first. CAM therapy is alternative treatment designed in leiu of taking traditional medications for illness.  This is not an exhaustive list, just what this particular culture focuses on. Diet is based on a few different things. The belief here is that there is medicinal value in food and what Asian/Indians believe is that a diet consisting of veggies and organic foods will bring you good health. Fried, refrigerated and processed foods will bring you bad health. This is not too far off from how we think is it?

When you have a dying patient of either Hindu religion or Asian/Indian descent, the hospital rules may limit their practices and traditions. Family members are typically present around the clock and there may be a lot of them. If this is the case, we try to give the patient a private room and close the door for privacy of their rituals. We try to accommodate culture into care as much as possible but clearly you can’t light anything in the hospital. It’s not very likely that there is an alternative that your patient’s family members will be willing to accept, however, most are very understanding of the dangers of fire in the hospital setting. Be very mindful of how you approach that subject if you ever have to because again, respect is key. After death, it’s customary for staff to provide post-mortem care, however, the family prefers to do so as they clean and prep the body and wrap it in red cloth for cremation.

When caring for patients of any culture, we incorporate as much of their culture into the care we provide as possible. We make changes to our communication as needed. When dealing with an Asian/Indian patient or family members, it’s important to use last names always, particularly with the elderly. Remember they are held at the highest respect and we honor that. We want to provide same sex caregivers where we can to maintain dignity and honor to our patient. Asian/Indians are a high context culture, which means they are not focusing on the message so much as they are the circumstances around and connections to the message. With that said, we want to limit the amount of treatment options we give them and avoid asking close ended questions. Because of dignity and respect, they aren’t likely to question what they’ve heard but you need to know what they understood. Body language is very important! Be sure to limit eye contact and gestures and watch your tone. These are all disrespectful to the culture. Different cultures don’t always mean different languages, but when they do, please be sure to use a professional translator.

We love you guys! Go out and be your best self today! And as always, Happy Nursing!