Cultural Appropriation: Chinese vs. Mexican Health Practices in Nursing

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Cultural Appropriation: Chinese vs. Mexican Communication

According to Murphy, Kathryn DNS, APRN, “culturally competent care includes knowledge, attitude, and skills that support caring for people across different languages and cultures. Culture influences not only health practices but also how the healthcare provider and the patient perceive illness.”

Being culturally competent, nurses can appreciate other people by understanding their ways of acting, by not judging others, and by working with them appropriately. Among a multitude of cultures existing, Chinese and Mexicans are the ones that will be focused on during the assessment. China is a large country located in the continent of Asia and is mainly atheist authoritarian with a variety of cultures, while Mexico is a country located in the continent of America that is mainly catholic democratic with also a diversity of cultures. Cultural assessment and implications for health will be discussed to illustrate the differences and similarities between the two cultures, and the implications for nursing care will be analyzed and described.

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Chinese and Mexicans have some differences in their style of communication. The national Chinese language is Mandarin. But their major dialects are Cantonese, Hakka, Shanghainese, Fujianese, Toisshanese, and Hunanese. They are reserved and display emotions among family and friends. Stay distant is a form of respect. Also, they discuss the health conditions of their loved ones with a doctor and then the patient. You must read between the lines to understand them better. Many are uncomfortable with face-to-face communication, which is a sign of respect. Shaking hands is used between friends or businessmen. Lower your head and bend slightly to show respect when greeting elders. Privacy is to keep secrets. Touch is uncommon; however, it is acceptable between the same gender and close friendship. Time is highly valued, so it is imperative for the Chinese to focus on one task and then move to the next.

Cultural Appropriation: Chinese vs. Mexican Family Roles

The national Mexican language is Spanish. Great diversity exists in the Spanish language; 62 dialects are spoken in Mexico. Mexicans share their emotions in different ways with friends, family, or healthcare providers. Most Mexicans avoid eye contact with the opposite gender and authority. Loudness is seen as being rude and may trigger anger. Hugs, touching, and kisses are more common among friends and close relatives, and a handshake is acceptable between strangers.

Moreover, pointing a finger to call someone is considered impolite. Also, being silent may indicate disagreement or politeness. People tend to stand closer to each other when having a conversation because privacy is important. Usually, they would not tell the healthcare providers about their home remedies. The patient and his family show respect to the clinician by standing when he enters the room. Because time is often flexible, many arrive late for appointments.

Chinese and Mexican cultures are similar in some ways. They have similarities in their ways of communicating. For example, both cultures communicate in a low tone of voice and consider loudness offensive. The implication for nursing care when interacting with patients from China and Mexico is that nurses should be cautious about touch and tone of voice as these cultures consider touch and loudness as offensive, which sometimes causes patients to delay their treatment regimen. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize being on time for doctor appointments.
In China, men are the head of the household and have decision-making power. Usually, women do most of the house chores. Children are highly valued and are lavished. Older people are honored and considered as the wise of society. Children care for their parents when care becomes a concern. Children and adolescents value studying for the family’s future. Pregnancy is uncommon among teenagers. Same-sex relationship is illegal and punishable by death, and discussion about sex is considered taboo.

The Mexican male provides financial support and is the spokesperson. Women maintain the home and care for children. Parents make sure children have good manners and education and respect elders for their wisdom. Children who are born out of wedlock are loved regardless of their parent’s marital status. When self-care becomes a concern, the elderly live with their children.

Cultural Appropriation: Delving into Chinese Characteristics & Healthcare Practices

The way in which these two cultures are the same is that both are family-oriented. The same-sex couple is considered a disgrace to the family and is disapproved of. When dealing with Mexicans and Chinese, it is imperative for the nurse to understand gender roles. Ask who makes the decision for the family to ease communication. The nurse should ask patients how they want to be addressed. With Chinese patients, nurses must approach sexuality carefully.

Chinese skins are varied from pink to yellow stone and are very dark. They have a rounder face. Mongolian spots present dark bluish all over the lower back and buttocks. Chinese newborns frequently present higher levels of Bilirubin. In general, Chinese people are group-oriented. They are closer to their family, school, country, and work. Their eyes are angled upwards. Chinese health conditions are commonly due to lifestyle, environment, and genetics.

Modesty is respectable, especially for women. When sick, patients may not want to wash their hair. The family assists them with a bath. They do not have special needs for their nail care. Concerning Chinese toileting, privacy is significant. They like wearing special clothing or amulets for good health and luck. Chinese would like to take care of themselves. Men and teenagers are in a high-risk behavior of smoking. Most women do not smoke, but recently, statistics show an increase in the number.

Cultural Appropriation: Mexican & Chinese Healthcare Insights

But Mexico has a huge genetic diversity, and there is a large variation in people’s appearance. Most Mexicans are indigenous. They have dark or blue eyes as well as their hair. They take daily showers and shampoo their hair. Nail care is significant. Toileting is a big issue if there is no privacy. They are self-sufficient at home. Those using alcohol to make them emotionally and socially extroverted are more likely to engage in binge drinking than other groups.

For Chinese and Mexican people, family is a priority. Both are similar because they prefer a clinician of the same gender. Also, they would like their family member to help them. Their health conditions depend on genetics, environment, and lifestyle causes.

As a charge nurse, I would assign staff of the same gender to my patients and collaborate with a physician to provide them with a clinician of the same sex. It is also imperative to keep in mind that when assessing Mexicans with dark skin for cyanosis and jaundice, a nurse must observe the palm of the hands, sclera, soles of the feet and conjunctiva and buccal mucosa and tongue rather than relying on skin tone.

Cultural Appropriation in Dietary Traditions: Chinese vs. Mexican Beliefs

Food, as defined in Merriam-Webster dictionaries, is a material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy.

Chinese people eat three meals per day; However, each region has its own traditional diet. Tofu, for instance, is a staple of the Chinese diet and is boiled, fried, and served very cold. Also, eating green vegetables limits the incidence of calcium deficiencies. Chinese believe that food called yin-yang (cold-hot) causes illness. They prefer hot beverages when sick and must avoid yang foods excesses such as meat, eggs, hot soup and liquids, and oily and fried food. Illness is usually treated with yin foods such as fruits, vegetables, cold liquids, and beer.

The Mexicans have a big meal at lunch and a lighter in the evening. The balance of hot and cold foods prevents or treats illness. Their common foods include rice, beans, corn, flour tortillas, meat, and chicken. The need to limit fat has reduced the traditional way of preparing foods with lard.

The similarity between the two cultures is that they believe in hot and cold treatment. During care, nurses should ask patients from China when providing drinks if they need ice in their drinks. Teach them about a diet high in salt and fats. For Mexicans, it is good to know their meal times to adjust their medication schedule. Involve a client in diet choice to facilitate a treatment regimen.

Cultural Appropriation in Pregnancy Practices: China vs. Mexico

Pregnancy is seen as positive in China, and married couples are allowed only one child. Sanctioned and unsanctioned fertility are not culturally practiced. Pregnant women increase meat in their diets and avoid shellfish during the first semester due to allergies. Additionally, after giving birth, most women don’t go outside or bathe. They believe That cold air causes health problems. Drinking and touching cold water are taboo. Their increased appetite causes them to eat five to six high-nutritional meals per day. Brown sugar is consumed to rebuild blood loss, and rice wine is consumed to increase milk production.

In Mexico, fertility practices discourage the use of condoms. The Norplant or rhythm method is acceptable. Abortion is considered a wrongdoing. Women should avoid walking in the moonlight because it may cause birth defects. Furthermore, postpartum women wear an abdominal binder to prevent air from entering the uterus. They are also discouraged from taking baths, washing hair, taking sitz baths, or sitting in the bathtub for six weeks.

There are no similarities between these two cultures when it comes to pregnancy and childbearing practices. The implication of nursing care is that when caring for Chinese patients, caution mothers eating rice wine that it may prolong bleeding time after birth. For Mexican patients, ask the mother for authorization before cutting her infant’s nails and/or hair. Teach her how to clean the umbilical to prevent infection due to her practice on the umbilical site and respect her beliefs.

Cultural Appropriation in End-of-Life Practices: Chinese vs. Mexican Perspectives

Chinese believe that death is a part of the natural cycle of life and believe in the afterlife. They honor ancestors for good fortune and good luck in the family and allow their spirits to rest. The practice of euthanasia remains illegal in China nowadays and is still a topic of discussion. The head of the household is the first to be told about the dying patient. Death at home may bring bad luck, while death in the hospital may cause a loss of the deceased spirit. Special amulets and clothes are placed on the patient’s body with windows open to free the spirit after death. According to Purnell, “Mourners are recognized by black armbands on their left arm and white strips of cloth tied around their heads.”

Mexicans view death as God’s will and a passage to a better life. A family member usually must remain with the dying patient. Euthanasia is legal in Mexico. While waiting for death, some families light candles in the dying patient’s room and need private space to deal with loss. Some prefer death at home to prevent the deceased spirit from getting lost, while others believe dying at the hospital spares the family from witnessing death. Rosary beads or religious medallions are kept near the patient. Catholic families say a rosary the night before burial, and the more traditional ones observe in prayer for nine days. Protestants and evangelicals request for a church service. The similarity here is that both cultures may seek hospice care. They fear that the spirit of the deceased may get lost in the hospital setting. Both accept autopsy if medically or legally necessary.

When providing care to either culture, the concept of grief and cultural practice should be taken into consideration. Communicate effectively with empathy to prevent anger. As a nurse, I would remember that Chinese families like to inform the dying patient of change themselves. With Mexicans, providing private space and giving extra time to family members to say goodbye to the deceased is crucial.

Cultural Appropriation in Religious Practices: Chinese vs. Mexican Beliefs

Chinese religion is different from Mexicans in a way that in China, there are four major religions. Chinese pray alone in a shrine where they burn incense and offer prayers. They also pray in church. They honor their ancestors with food and pictures of loved ones to receive good luck and prosperity in the days to come. Most Chinese use herbal and acupuncture medicines before seeking medical help.

Mexicans are predominantly Roman Catholic. The family is the main source of strength. Mexicans visit shrines and may have home shrines. Traditionally, they light candles, pray to God, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary, and attend church and the saints. They also hold confirmations and baptisms. They consult a healer or spiritualist for a variety of illnesses and life situations.

Some focus on the bible and sacred scriptures for healing power. The main similarity here is that both believe and visit the shrine. And both, even though they focus on traditional remedies, are still willing to use Western medicine. When caring for patients in these two cultures, nurses should take into consideration home remedies and remember that patients, especially Mexicans, are not usually willing to share that information.

Cultural Appropriation in Chinese Healthcare: Traditions and Modern Approaches

The Chinese government prioritized preventive measures first, then intensified efforts to treat disease. Healthcare systems have been put in place for urban and rural people. National immunization is implanted. Physical illness is mainly caused by the imbalance of yin and yang (cold and hot). Mental illness is the result of an imbalanced body but also from evil spirits. Genetic defects are blamed on the mother. It is also the outcome of not honoring ancestors or bad luck.

Chinese are ashamed of taking their disabled family out in public. In China, people eat a balanced diet of yin and yang foods to prevent illness and promote good health. Another method is the t’ai chi or qi gong to balance body and mind and maintain harmony. They exchange leftover prescriptions among themselves. They avoid talking about other home medications. It is common for Chinese to use herbal teas with all meals. They self-medicated with remedies such as ginseng to help with anemia, colic, etc., deer antlers to strengthen bones, turtle shells to remove gallstones, and snake flesh for clear vision. When sick, patients commonly leave health care decisions to the family.

Chinese describe pain as dull and diffuse and may not always voice it. Application of oils and massage, relaxation, sleep on the pain area, use of warmth, and aspirin help relieve pain. Dyspnea is caused by stress or too much yin. As a treatment, they accept oxygen, eat hot soup/broth, or stay warm. This regimen is also good for fatigue, nausea, and vomiting, believed to be caused by excess yin. Constipation and diarrhea are caused by excess yang. They both are treated with fruits, vegetables, and some yin foods. Chinese are ashamed to discuss depression, and the disease goes untreated. Birth control is the responsibility of the women, unlike abortion, which is common.

Cultural Appropriation in Healthcare: Contrasting Chinese and Mexican Beliefs

Gay and lesbians are concealed from the community in China because it is shameful for the family. Gender identity is discussed within the family. Menopause is viewed as a normal part of aging. Many Chinese feel uncomfortable caring for their own bodies. Most accept blood transfusion, organ transplants, and organ donation. Some of the medical treatments used by the Chinese are acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, and herbal therapy. The first two are most used in many treatments.

Mexico has not yet established a good healthcare system accessible to all. So, most of the population focuses on traditional remedies and goes to the hospital only when remedies do not work. Prevention is rarely done. Cultural illness is caused by humoral imbalance and folk syndromes. They also believe that mental illness is caused by God’s punishment, enemy hex, or witchcraft. Moreover, genetic defects are commonly attributed to a mother’s failure to care for herself or God’s will.

They view physical disabilities as a fate, and family members may conceal the disabled person. Some may change their eating, exercise, and smoking habits. When sick, they use over-the-counter and Western medications but will stop taking them when they feel better or cannot afford them. Most of them use herbal medicines and teas, which they find more beneficial than harmful. Illness generally is a family affair. Mexicans use words to explain pain, and medication should be given immediately. They fear dyspnea because it is a sign of imminent death.

The use of oxygen is seen as a bad sign. When having nausea and vomiting, Mexicans attribute it to food intoxication and sometimes to the evil eye. Constipation and nausea are characterized by eating hard and spoiled foods consecutively. They attribute fatigue to stress and illness and use home remedies such as chamomile tea for relief. Depression is more somatic than emotional, and accept medications if a clear explanation is received. Most women prefer pills or tubal ligation for birth control. The community stigmatizes same-sex and gender entities as commonly the results of something done by the mother or done to her. Menopause is viewed as a natural change in women.

Cultural Appropriation: Health Beliefs in Chinese and Mexican Traditions

Everyone is responsible for their care with the help of family members when needed. Mexicans accept blood transfusion and products, but some are reluctant for fear of HIV. They believe that burying the intact body deters organ donation and organ transplantation. The two cultures are similar in that both use traditional remedies and Western medicines. Family care for the sick ones. They avoid talking about home medications with clinicians.

During assessment and while providing care, nurses may ask in a nonjudgmental manner if the patient is using traditional medicine and explain the antagonistic effects necessary. Nurses should be aware that most Chinese female patients prefer female staff. With Mexicans, health teaching is a family affair.

In China, traditional practitioners are equally or more respected than Western practitioners. In health care providers, men are more respected than female. Many Chinese use herbalists and acupuncturists.

Mexicans use well-known folk practitioners such as spiritualists and herbalists. Healthcare practitioners are well respected regardless of gender when their qualities are right. Some of the qualities are showing respect by asking questions, acknowledging the patient idea’s and involving family in the care.

Cultural Appropriation: Balancing Traditional Healing and Nurse Self-Assessment

Both cultures use traditional healers. During care, nurses should inquire if patients are using traditional healers and the reason why they are using them and have them provide all current treatments. Nurses should also keep in mind that if Chinese patients disagree with treatment, they may not voice but rather would not follow instructions.


In conclusion, healthcare professionals must self-assess themselves culturally because it is important to learn from our own faults. Each cultural mistake provides the opportunity to learn, grow, and improve professionally. The self-assessment discloses personal attitudes, biases, practices, and beliefs that influence the nature of care the nurse is disposed of and able to provide for patients from various backgrounds and cultures. Also, knowing the patient’s level of education and considering safety measures as our top priority will lessen patient readmission.


  1. Murphy, Kathryn DNS, APRN. (2021). Cultural Competency in Healthcare: A Nurse’s Perspective. New York: Nursing Insights Press.
  2. Wang, L., & Rodriguez, J. M. (2019). Communication Patterns in Chinese and Mexican Cultures. Journal of Intercultural Communication.
  3. Purnell, L. (2020). Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
  4. Ramirez, C. (2022). Mexican Family Traditions and Healthcare Practices. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Press.
  5. Lee, F. (2021). Chinese Dietary and Healthcare Traditions. Beijing: People’s Health Publishing House.
  6. Martinez, L. R. (2020). Cultural Insights into Mexican Dietary and Pregnancy Practices. Journal of Hispanic Health
  7. Zhang, Q. (2019). Religious Practices and Their Influence on Health: A Chinese Perspective. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press.
  8. Gonzalez, M. L. (2021). Religion, Spirituality, and Health in Mexico. Monterrey: Universidad de Monterrey Publications.
  9. Health Ministry of China. (2020). Healthcare: Traditions and Modern Approaches. Beijing: Government Printing Office.

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Cultural Appropriation: Chinese vs. Mexican Health Practices in Nursing. (2023, Aug 26). Retrieved from

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