Teaching across cultures involves teaching people from different classes in terms of social, economic, political as well as religious background. The main purpose of this paper is to analyze the factors that influence health-seeking behavior among different cultures or groups of people. In this paper, the client of assessment is a group of people working in the same manufacturing company in the city but holding different positions and responsibilities.
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The teaching topic for this group of employees is pollution and the diseases related to it. The choice of this topic is convenient for this particular group because working in the same company with different responsibilities ranging from managers, accountants, secretaries, drivers, messengers, and even cleaners, implies that their income varies and hence their living standards. This topic is very exploitative on this group of people and therefore of great significance to health promotion and disease prevention. Working in the same environment probably exposes them to similar environmental pollutants depending on nature and also the location of the company. However, other factors may influence the effect of pollution on different people in this company and they are going to be discussed later in this piece of work.
Significance of the topic
By teaching the employees of this company about pollution and its effects on their health will help them to be able to protect themselves from hazardous pollutants and consequently prevent diseases.
Factors affecting health-seeking behavior
Teaching on environmental pollution will help these clients to be conscious of their environment and their body health. There are many factors that influence their health-seeking behaviors. These factors include;
- social-economic factors
- education level
- cultural beliefs
- family background
- Health status.
These factors are explained below in detail so that they can be understood for the sake of trying to promote health and prevent pollution-related diseases. Dr. David N. Schwartz MD, Director NIEHS said that; “People tend to talk most often and loudly about those things which they are passionate about. In reality, it is my role as a physician that has enabled me to recognize that clinical research and fundamental research in disease prevention are not separate paths, but rather intricately and necessarily connected approaches to achieving health.” It is therefore clear that research on the factors that influence health-seeking behavior is necessary for health promotion and disease prevention purposes.
This is the main factor that affects the other factors. It determines the living standards of the employees. In this case, the low-earning group of people in the company will be living in the slums or in low-class areas where risks of pollution are high and cannot be avoided. Hence the efforts of teaching them on this topic will have little or no influence at all on their health-seeking behavior and choices. On the other hand, the well-paid personnel who live in the posh suburbs of the city will see the relevance of this topic hence they can have control over pollution to some reasonable extent though not fully.
The well-paid workers also have a positive behavior towards health and tend to seek medical attention in case of illness, unlike the economically suppressed group.
Level of education
The Education of people in any given group differs. This is a result of the social-economic status of the family. Poor parents do not take their children to school because of a lack of money. It is also evident that even if these parents somehow manage to take their children to school, they take them to poor schools, and therefore do not manage for higher education. Education influences the health-seeking behavior of individuals. Highly educated people tend to be more sensitive to issues concerning health than people with little education who opt for self-medication which is not healthy.
These are cultural or traditional believes that exist in every ethnic group. A company in the city will have people from different cultures who come from different places in the country. This group, therefore, holds different perceptions on different health matters, for example, some communities believe that Tuberculosis is a result of witchcraft and cannot be treated in a hospital but through traditional practices.
The age of a person also influences their health-seeking behavior. Young people are not much affected by pollutants like the old who have a weak body immune system. The topic will therefore not have equal influence on all the people working in the company since they are of different age categories.
The initial health status of a person also influences his or her health-seeking behavior. People who have a problem related to pollution will have a very good concentration on this particular topic than those who have never experienced a problem at all.
A person’s family background also affects his or her health-seeking behavior. People who have been brought up in families where hygiene and matters regarding pollutants and health are emphasized have a positive view of health behavior even if they do not have a rich educational background. Individuals brought up in a less concerned family about hygiene, pollution and health do not have
health-promoting behavior even though some may be highly educated.
The concept of health promotion and disease prevention
By teaching people who work in a hazardous environment it will familiarize them with the precautions they are required to undertake while working in such an environment and at home as well. This will help them to prevent themselves from diseases occurring as a result of pollution. At the same time promoting health through eating well-balanced food. The idea of disease prevention seems to be poorly followed. The problem that most people have in any society, with the concept of disease prevention is that it is not interesting in any way. If one considers eating well as a means of preventing diseases, he will never be excited to follow it up properly. (Khudston, 1992).According to Suzuki, the only people who become excited about preventing diseases are usually people who already have a disease.
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The most effective way of motivating oneself towards healthy living is to understand how food will make one stronger than before.
The cultural attributes of this group of people towards pollution are very differing, it is amazing that most of them have no or little concern about pollution as a factor promoting diseases. Some believe that pollution is part of our environment and we have no control over it.
A good number of people believe that diseases are just a natural phenomenon and blaming pollution for it is not justified in any way whatsoever. This cultural belief makes health-promoting efforts ineffective to these people.
For example, smokers have a different opinion on smoking cessation as a health-promoting factor. In a research carried out in the United States on 4351 smokers aged between 25-64 years, as part of the National Cancer Institutes Community Intervention Trial for Smoking Cessation, Younger people responded that there are health benefits in stopping smoking while elderly people said there are no health-promoting benefits accrued to smoking cessation. People who had smoked for more than 20 years also had the same opinion. Those who had a college education also supported that, there are health benefits in stopping smoking while those without college education responded negatively to this health topic. This meant that greater concentration had to be focused on the negative responding group.
A randomized trial for smoking cessation in. (Bernhardt, 1990) Smoking is a form of pollution especially secondhand smoking and it has many effects related to health matters. This is a very good tool for teaching people about the effects of pollution because in a workplace there are people who smoke and do not mind the health of the non-smokers around them.
The information in this piece of work will help these clients in taking matters regarding pollution and health more seriously and this will change their health-seeking behavior regardless of their cultural beliefs. In the workplace, they will be more careful and also implement this behavior at home. The positive change includes eating a well-balanced diet, for example, drinking milk to prevent choking cough by dust which also promotes good health. Educating people on the importance of healthy eating, and positive behavior in seeking health is also a long-term investment because once people are educated about health matters, they protect the health of others either directly or indirectly consciously or unconsciously.
Though it is not that easy to teach across cultures, it is necessary for an educator to know that he or she has a role in changing people’s behavior in seeking health no matter what it takes.
Bernhardt, R. (1990), Culture Community and the Curriculum, New York: Oxford University Press.
Gardner, H. (1991), the unschooled mind, New York: NY basic books.
Khudtson, P. and Suzuki, D. (1992), Wisdom of the elders, Toronto: Stordant publishers.
Linda, C.(2006), Social economic status Psychosocial processes and perceived health, New York: Oxford university Press Teaching across cultures also available at.