Culture refers to the behavior, patterns, beliefs, and all other products of a group of people that are passed on from generation to generation. It results from the interaction between people and their environment over many years. Culture also pertains to the language, values, and customs. “No matter how well intentioned people are, their life circumstances likely have given them some prejudices. If they don’t have prejudices toward people with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, other kinds of people may bring out prejudices in them. For example, prejudices can be developed about people who have certain religious or political conventions, people who are unattractive or too attractive, people with a disability, and people in a nearby town (Santrock, 2007).”
Culture is one aspect of our experience that makes us similar to some people and different from others. People in all cultures tend to believe that what happens in their culture is always natural and correct. Cross-culture tends to emphasize on Individualistic or Collectivism. Such as the Western culture like the United States are described as individualism and the Eastern culture like China and Japan are described as collectivistic. Individualistic cultures have higher rates than collectivistic cultures of suicide, drug abuse, crime, teenage pregnancy, divorce, child abuse, and mental disorders. Regardless of their cultural background, people need a positive sense of both self and connectedness to others.
Other cultural factors are rites of passage, which are ceremonies or rituals. For the rites of passage, it signals the adolescent’s transition to adulthood; others do not. Here are some examples of rites of passage: Congolese Kota boys painted their faces as part of a rite of passage to adulthood. The Apache Indians of the American Southwest celebrate a girl’s entrance into puberty with a four-day ritual that includes special dress, daylong activities and solemn spiritual ceremonies. Americans do not have formal rites of passage that mark the transition from adolescence to adulthood. For the United States school graduation is the closest there is to rites of passage.
For communication in culture it involves change, and nowhere is that change greater than in the technological revolution, today’s children and youth are experiencing with increased use of computers and the Internet. Society still relies on some basic nontechnological competencies: for example, good communication skills, positive attitudes, and the ability to solve problems, and to think deeply and creatively. However, how people pursue these competencies is changing in ways and at a speed that few people had to cope with in previous eras (Bitter & Legacy, 2006; Thorsen, 2006; Wood & Smith, 2006). People are using computers to communicate today the way they used to use pens, postage stamps, and telephones. For children to be adequately prepared for tomorrow’s jobs, technology needs to become an integral part of their lives (Saettler, 2005).
Just as culture factors plays, a role in aging it also has a role in health. Aging for example involves greater responsibility, authority, and advisory. Like the Navajo culture, the older adults are treated with respect because of wisdom and life experiences. As for the health, The Journal of Cultural Diversity (JCD) has been an interdisciplinary journal that “unites theory, research, and practice issues related to cultural diversity from the perspective of a variety of disciplines under one cover”.
Physical therapy is a direct form of hands-on professional patient care. Physical therapists partner with healthcare providers who have expertise in acute care, primary care, and specialty care such as pediatrics, geriatrics, cardiology, internal medicine, neurology, orthopedics, psychiatry, rheumatology, surgery, and sports medicine. Physical therapists also partner with patients/families to achieve the objectives of preventing disability and pain, restoring function and providing relief from pain, promoting healing and adaptation to permanent disability, and optimizing overall fitness and health (American Physical Therapy Association [APIA], 2007; Pesic, 2006; “Physical flierapy,” 2006). These objectives imply active participation of both the therapist and the client; therefore, the cultural values and beliefs of the client need to be taken into consideration for successful assessment and treatment.
Other cultures also have unique values and lifestyle characteristics that need to be known and understood by physical therapists and other healthcare providers to promote the delivery of culturally competent care. Culture also affects health service utilization patterns and clients’ expectations as well as satisfaction with services. But make no bones about it-culture in patient-provider interactions is a two way street.
Physical therapists and health care providers from other disciplines bring their own cultures (and, unfortunately, biases) to each clinical encounter. The number of physical therapists who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups has been steadily on the rise, and the APTA has been at the forefront of addressing cultural diversity issues, including minority student recruitment and retention (Ries, 2006).