The Heritage Assessment Tool (HAT) is a way to asses an individual’s ethnic, religious, and cultural heritage as well as health traditions. Using this tool allows healthcare providers to deliver high quality patient care as well as develop a therapeutic relationship and healing approach. Being able to deliver high quality care to patients and families is of utmost importance for nurses. In order to be most efficient in the delivery the nurse has to be culturally competent. Being culturally competent encompasses more than just asking where a patient was born. In America, this is due to the fact that a good portion of the population consists of people who have immigrated from all over the world (Edelman, Kudzma, & Mandle, 2014). This paper discusses the usefulness of using the HAT when evaluating three culturally diverse families. The Italian Americans, Spanish Americans, and Filipino Americans will be compared to identify the differences in health protection, health maintenance, health restoration, common health traditions and practices.
The HAT assessment consists of twenty-nine questions that focus specifically on an individual’s cultural background, religious practices, beliefs, and family relations. By using the Heritage Assessment Tool the nurse learns about the patient’s culture which assists in better caring for a culturally wide range of patients (Saver, 2007). Not only does this assessment assist with helping the nurse understand the patient’s background but also assists in painting a better picture of that patient’s personal view on health. A patient’s culture and background directly affects how he or she receives healthcare services such as health promotion education and preventative measures. Each patient is culturally unique and if that is taken into consideration the nurse can form a positive patient-nurse relationship with the patient which will in turn help the patient gain respect and trust the nurses in charge of his or her care.
The first family that was interviewed was an Italian American family from New York. The paternal grandparents and the maternal grandfather were all born and raised in upstate New York. The maternal grandmother was born in Tampa, Florida. This portion of the family is third generation immigrants. Being third generation immigrants they have adapted some American traditions but mainly still follow traditional Italian customs. The traditional Italian family is father-headed, but mother centered (Pozetta, 2000). This family’s household is still run the same way.
Food at holidays and celebrations is very traditional with mainly Italian meats, cheeses, and pastas eaten. Wine is also consumed during holiday meals. Most of the meals are eaten at home and are cooked from scratch. There is family still in Italy and it is very important to this family to remain in close contact with these people. They keep in close contact by email, phone calls, and video chatting. This family makes a yearly trip in August to Italy to sight see and spend time with extended family members. When the previous generation emigrated from Italy, the family’s last name was changed and shortened from Riccio to Rich because it made it easier for men to become employed.
The second family was a Peruvian American family. Both maternal and paternal parents and grandparents were born in Peru. There are five children in the home, 3 boys and 2 girls. The person completing the interview came to America when she was 37. Her mother and father were 58 and 64, respectively, when they came to America. Growing up she lived with her parents and siblings but has maintained close contact with all immediate and extended members of the family. Growing up she lived in a neighborhood with people with the same ethnic and religious background. For family get celebrations and holidays traditional Peruvian food is usually served. There is also a lot of music and dancing during these celebrations no matter how big or how small the gathering. Even though she grew up in a very religious household and went to church regularly, she is no longer an active member of a church but does worship “in her own way” at home.
The third family that was interviewed was an Asian-American family that immigrated to America from the Philippines. This is a first generation immigration family. Both the mother and father immigrated to America around the age of thirty. This family is very traditional in their beliefs and customs. Although they live in America they still maintain a diet that is very similar to the traditional Filipino diet. The mother works full time but is also the home maker. She cooks all meals from scratch using fresh, not processed, ingredients and also is responsible for the upkeep of the house. It isn’t uncommon for the entire family and extended family to gather once a week at least. The Filipinos are a very close knit family. This family belongs to the Catholic Church and the attend services weekly.
There are many common health traditions among these three cultures. In all three of these groups family is the center of the household. These people are all still very close with immediate and extended family and see them for gatherings regularly. For all three families interviewed, home remedies are a first line of defense for illness. The Italian American family believes that drinking hot tea with lemon will help cure some ailments. The Filipino and Spanish American families believe that eating spicy foods or having a spicy beverage will fix any sickness or disease. The Italian and Filipino families believe that illness is an unbalance between hot and cold, while the Spanish family believes illness is a result of someone looking at the individual with an “evil eye.”
The Heritage Assessment Tool is a great tool to use when assessing a patient’s cultural needs. When the cultural needs are identified the nurse is able to provide care that is focused on health maintenance, health promotion, and health restoration unique to that individual’s culture. Each family interviewed has many similarities as well as many differences that make each particular person’s needs differ slightly.
Edelman, C.L., Kudzma, E.C., & Mandle, C.L. (2014). Health promotion throughout the life
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