As we continue to recognize culture in society and in current healthcare, Child Life Specialists also need to be considerate of cultural awareness and aspects with patients and families. Cultural considerations are important in developing a patient’s care plan, as well as assessing the type of support the patient will be receiving in their care.

Image result for Lynch and HansonEleanor Lynch and Marci Hanson developed a theory discussing Cross-Cultural competence for healthcare professionals.  Depending on who is responsible for the patient can determine the role they have in the patient’s care and meeting their needs. It is also important to validate feelings and concerns about how care is influenced by the needs of the family and to provide emotional support for when families feel stress and anxiety when providing care.

Lynch and Hansen created a continuum that explains different aspects of  cultural beliefs for families. Factors within this continuum can vary due to how it can influence cognitive, academic, linguistic, physical, and socio-emotional development. They consist of (Buenaventura, n.d.):

  • Family system: This can consist of a small unit of parents, siblings, multiple generations of family members, friends, and neighbors. They are responsible for decision making and caretaking
  • Interdependence/Individuality: This consists of a family’s interdependence and cooperation with each other. Individualism is often viewed as selfish and can cause conflict in families.
  • Nurture/Independence: Nurturing consists of how families feed, dress, supervise and provide for children. Involvement in early learning and education can be seen here.
  • Time: Time can be viewed and handled differently because it is given rather than measured. Families may apply time to certain priorities over others and dedicate more time to those priorities.
  • Tradition/Technology: This compares traditional customs and practices to technology and use of technological devices and improvements. This can often examine folk wisdom and practices such as oral communication and healers.
  • Ownership: Property of items is considered to belong to a family and community. Items can be borrowed or shared.
  • Rights and Responsibilities: These can vary according to how gender is viewed, as well as familial roles.
  • Harmony and Control: rules and guidelines, roles, or expectations that can be viewed to keep peace and avoid conflict

Image result for family centered care

This theory is beneficial for building Family Centered Care values with a patient throughout their hospitalization and care. It is important to validate and empower the roles of the family to determine how they can support the patient and how to establish a way to support the family throughout a care plan that is appropriate. It is also essential to establish how the family can be involved in the patient’s care and designate roles for different family members so there is more inclusiveness.

This can also be important for understanding the care plan with the family to assess or review if any step or part of the plan is acceptable or inappropriate based on values and beliefs. It is important to recognize different cultural factors so that consent to a care or treatment plan may be given and to consider how to approach and discuss options with other family members throughout the patient’s care.



Buenaventura, L. (n.d.). Culture self-identity and the culture continua. Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning. Retrieved from: