Dear fellow caregivers,
You are welcoming a patient from Mexico.
Here is a list of useful information to know in the context of their medical care.
Distance Paris ✈ Mexico City : 5647 miles
122.9 million inhabitants / Average salary: $800 per month
Literacy rate: 95.14% / Life expectancy: 76.50 years
Spoken language : Spanish
● In many Mexican communities, patients typically turn to curanderos (traditional healers) using indigenous folk medicine to treat ailments and “cleanse” the mind.
● Traditional medicines, as an alternative practice to conventional medicine, are effective and legitimate for much of the population.
● The most common infectious diseases are: COVID-19, hepatitis A and B, rabies, tuberculosis, typhoid and Zika.
● When family members visit the patient, they can be very numerous.
● Mexican people are culturally warm, friendly and tactile.
● Conversations are held by staying close together. Stepping back can be seen as hostile.
● Standing with hands on hips suggests aggression, and keeping hands in pockets is rude.
● Mexican patients frequently confuse “positive” or “negative” listed on their medical results. (See section “Example of cases encountered”)
Beliefs, Practices & Rituals
● The majority of Mexicans are Catholic (89%). A minority is Protestant (6%).
● Our Lady of Guadalupe, also called the Virgin of Guadalupe (Lupita) is an icon of the Mexican Catholic Church.
● In Mexican culture, to ward off the evil eye, children often wear a necklace or bracelet with a red string and a deer eye.
● Herbal remedies are often used. On the other hand, greta and azarcon, which are a kind of powder to treat stomach ache, contain lead and can be dangerous.
● For Mexicans, the disease is thought to be due to a body imbalance. The patient might refuse certain foods or medications that would upset the “hot/cold” body balance.
● The most common ingredients in Mexican cuisine are: corn (used for tortillas), chilies (used fresh or dried), beans, lentils, fava beans and tomatoes.
● Many Mexicans prefer to start the day with a hearty breakfast.
● In Mexican culture, “Being round” is often synonymous with good health.
● Many dishes in Mexican cuisine are high in fat and salt.
Pregnancy and motherhood
● A chubby baby is considered a healthy baby. An explanation of feeding and diabetes may be recommended.
● It is customary to put earrings on little girls from birth.
● Abortion is penalized in Mexico except in the capital city, México.
● Religion, family, and the use of traditional medicine are important at the end of life.
● Mexicans may not know what to expect regarding end-of-life care. Caregivers may have to explain all the options available to him/her.
Many pregnant women of Mexican origin who have been tested for fetal abnormalities misunderstand the term “positive” when they receive the results. Rather than understanding that there is a problem, they think it means that everything is normal for their baby. These misunderstandings are common. Caregivers need to pay attention to the meaning of the words “positive” and “negative” but also to the patient’s reaction.
Susto is also known as “loss of soul”. It is caused by a traumatic experience, which can be serious (witnessing a death) or minor (startled). Symptoms: malaise, fever, insomnia, irritability, nightmares, depression and anxiety may occur immediately after the fear or several months later. Treatment involves “cleansing” and prayers. A nurse was treating a patient of Mexican origin who had been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. A few days before the paralysis, the patient had experienced a great emotional shock and was therefore convinced that the shock had caused her symptoms. The nurse spent a lot of time trying to convince the patient that the symptoms were not caused by susto, but rather by a viral infection or immune disorder. The nurse could have taken a different approach to the situation and considered the patient’s beliefs: For example, that the shock she experienced weakened her immune system and made her more vulnerable to the disease. This is a much more culturally sensitive solution and is likely to increase the patient’s confidence in the caregiver.
● Cleveland Clinic - Diversity Toolkit
● Geri-Ann Galanti - Caring for patients from different cultures, 5ème édition