Investigation of Cultural, Social, and Religious Aspects of Saudi Arabia and Neighboring States and Implications for Best Practice in Health Education and Promotion

Monday, 9 November 2015

Sami Abdulrahman Al-Hamidi, MSN, BSN, RN, ICDL
School of Nursing, The Catholic University of America, Vienna, VA, USA

Gulf culture has been examined in a variety of mediums but a thorough survey of its structure for use by health care practitioners and nurses in particular has not been made.  Since the majority of health care in that location is provided by non-Saudis, this work should be a major assistance to health care professionals in that locale.  It should further be of assistance as a guide for inquiry to professionals who are working in cultures which they are seeking to understand.

By examining the cultural, social, and religious features of the target population some perspective has been gained into the variety of lives of its people.   There are common threads which run through the fabric of the Gulf which gives a starting point for considering the health care needs of the people living there.  It can also assist those who practice there to understand these needs.

The central themes which emerged from critical care nurses caring for Saudi clients were family and kinship, cultural and religious influences, and the nurse-patient relationship (Halligan, 2006). When clients ranked aspects of care assurance, information, cultural, and spiritual needs were the dominant needs.  Nurse support and proximity were least important to them. After viewing the patterns of the culture, the healthcare professional will understand the lack of priority attached to support and proximity since it is a common practice for clients to have a family companion to meet these needs.

Within the theme of cultural and spiritual needs family members of clients in intensive care units mentioned looking for information, maintaining reassurance, spiritual healing, maintaining close proximity, and most importantly respect and care of the body of an expired family member.  However, care of the body was ranked in fifth priority by health providers (Al-Mutair, Plummer, Clerehan, & O’Brien, 2013).

Specific values are contained in the ANA Code of Ethics (ANA, op cit.) which have resulted in the concept of cultural competency.  The inherent dignity of the individual, autonomy and the right to self-determination are important concepts when caring for any clientele. Taken from social work values, confidentiality, self-awareness, client individualization, and non-judgmental attitude are part of the values which nurses who wish to be effective in caring must work toward (Galanti, 1991).

Evidence-based research needs to be coupled with values and ethics to form a powerful formula which can be used in any culture to provide culturally competent caring and best practice. When these elements are combined with specific language and lifeways training during pre-service and ongoing orientation a comprehensive orientation for caring for culturally diverse clients emerges.