June 24, 2024
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Influence of Cultural and Health Belief Systems on Healthcare Practices

Healthcare practices are heavily influenced by cultural beliefs and values that patients hold. Different cultures have unique perceptions of health and diverse practices to maintain good health. These cultural and health belief systems can significantly impact the effectiveness of healthcare practices. For instance, during the fasting hours of Ramadan, Muslims believe in refraining from eating or taking medication, which can affect disease management within the Islamic community, particularly in conditions like diabetes. This blog explores the dietary significance of fasting, nursing interventions, and the importance of accommodating religious practices in healthcare.

Dietary Significance of Fasting

Consider the case of Fatima, a Muslim patient with diabetes who observes fasting from sunrise to sundown during Ramadan. When prescribing medication for her diabetes, nurses must take into account Fatima’s cultural beliefs. Leininger’s Sunrise Model is a valuable tool for nurses to evaluate and understand a patient’s cultural and spiritual preferences. This model encompasses cultural preservation, repatterning, and negotiation.

Cultural preservation involves supporting the patient in adopting cultural practices during care. In cultural negotiation, nurses allow the patient to follow cultural practices if they are not harmful. And in repatterning, the nurse assists the patient in modifying risky cultural practices. For Fatima, fasting is significant for her health condition as it helps lower blood glucose levels. In this case, the nurse may employ cultural negotiation to ensure Fatima can fast during Ramadan while maintaining good health. However, prolonged fasting may increase the risk of hypoglycemia for a patient with diabetes. In such a scenario, the nurse could use cultural repatterning by encouraging Fatima to modify her fasting and take medication even during the fasting period.

Nursing Interventions to Accommodate Fatima’s Religious Practice

Fatima’s religious practice of fasting during Ramadan is acceptable, even with her diabetes. The nurse should implement the following interventions to support her beliefs and promote good health:

  1. Regular Blood Glucose Monitoring: The nurse should measure Fatima’s blood glucose levels throughout the fasting period to identify any complications, such as hypoglycemia, in a timely manner.
  2. Pre-Fasting Nutrition: Before the fasting begins at sunset, Fatima should be advised to consume foods rich in complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. This will help moderate glucose levels in her blood during fasting.
  3. Adequate Hydration: After sunset, Fatima should be encouraged to consume enough fluids to prevent dehydration, which could lead to health complications.
Fatima’s Response If She Was Told That She Couldn’t Fast

The nursing interventions mentioned above accommodate both Fatima’s beliefs and nursing practices. Culturally competent nursing, as advocated by Leininger’s Sunrise Model, aims to understand and respect cultural beliefs while providing effective healthcare. If the nurse were to suggest that Fatima should not fast, she might refuse to follow this advice due to the strong influence of her cultural and religious beliefs. Many individuals in the Islamic community choose to participate in fasting during Ramadan, even if they have been diagnosed with diabetes.


Cultural and health beliefs play a significant role in shaping healthcare practices. People hold their customs dearly, making it essential for nurses to understand and accommodate these beliefs to provide effective care. In the Islamic community, fasting during Ramadan is a deeply held belief, and nurses should find ways to support this practice while managing health conditions like diabetes. By employing culturally competent nursing practices, healthcare professionals can bridge the gap between different belief systems and deliver compassionate and effective healthcare services.


  1. Almalki, M. H., & Alshahrani, F. (2016). Options for controlling type 2 diabetes during Ramadan. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 7, 32.
  2. Albougami, A. S., Pounds, K. G., & Alotaibi, J. S. (2016). Comparison of four cultural competence models in transcultural nursing: A discussion paper. International Archives of Nursing and Health Care, 2(3), 1-5.

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