Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka
Caution: These are broad generalizations and should not be used to stereotype
Direct eye contact
may be seen as rude or disrespectful, especially among the elderly.
indicates acceptance or approval.
Some may not
want to sign consents; they consider health care professionals to be
and may prefer to have them make the decisions.
head bob may indicate agreement or uncertainty. An up-and-down nod may
indicate disagreement, while acknowledging what the speaker is saying.
Husbands may answer
questions addressed to wife.
Males should avoid
shaking hands with females unless she offers her hand first.
Close female family
members will often remain with patient; family members will often take
over ADLs (Activities of Daily Living, such as feeding, grooming, etc.)
for patient. Do not insist upon self-care unless medically necessary.
The father or
eldest son usually has decision-making power, but generally family members
are consulted before decisions are made.
May prefer same-sex
caregivers due to modesty.
however, moaning and screaming are acceptable during the birth of the
may not want narcotics for anything other than severe pain.
women are often encouraged to eat nuts, raisins, coconuts and fruits to
have a healthy, beautiful baby.
Dried ginger powder,
celery seeds, nuts and puffed lotus seeds may be given to the new Hindu
mother to cleanse her system and restore her strength.
East Indian women
practice a post-partum lying-in period. It is expected that they feed
the baby, but that everything else is done for them. Traditionally, female
relatives would take over. If none are with them, they may expect nurses
to do so.
of Life Issues
Some may prefer
to have fatal diagnosis given to family member. Family will then decide
whether and how much to reveal to the patient. Discuss with patient whom
information should be given. It is best to do this well in advance of
enjoined not to cut their hair or shave their beard. Their hair will usually
be worn in a turban. Consider this before cutting or shaving any hair
in preparation for surgery.
Hindus will generally
not eat meat or fish; some may not eat eggs. Muslims will not eat pork.
Those who believe
in Ayurvedic medicine (Hindus, Sikhs and some Muslims) see food in terms
of a hot/cold classification, based on qualities inherent in the food,
rather than on the temperature. “Hot” foods (meat, fish, eggs,
yogurt, honey, nuts) will be given for “cold” conditions such
as fever or surgery, especially in winter. “Cold” foods (e.g.,
milk, butter, cheese, fruits & vegetables) should be eaten in the
summer and for “hot” conditions, including pregnancy.
Note: most of the material
contained in this profile is adapted from Rajwani, R., J. (1996) South
Asians. In JG Lipson, SL Dibble, and PA Minarik (Eds.), Culture and Nursing
Care: A Pocket Guide (pp. 264-279). San Francisco: UCSF Nursing Press.