Essay Example on Italian Traditional Health Beliefs

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  933 Words
Date:  2023-01-04


People have different cultures, which are no exception for medical personnel and patients who tend to convey them in their interaction in medical vicinities (Lovering, 2016). Most of the attitudes portrayed in the interactions are, however, partly influenced by a person's traditional or modern health beliefs. This study aims to focus on the Italian traditional health beliefs and practices which as Romeo, Gallo & Tagarelli (2014) ascertain were majorly religion based, and relate them to modern patient's expectation in a health facility.

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History and Communication

According to the United States population report 2019, People of Italian descent living in the country form about 4.3% of the population, which is roughly over 17.2 million. According to Thomas (2019), family existence is a fundamental part of Italian culture. They are a family oriented community and mostly live together in big families per house comprising of several generations. Due to modernizations, a few who prefer living in nuclear families still find themselves living with the grandparents whose sole responsibility is to help take care of the younger ones. Evason, (2017) explains that Italians incorporate both verbal and non-verbal means of communication in their normal day to day lives. They are naturally engaging and expressive speakers and most times; they tend to get bored over prolonged silence. They are straight communicators and speak in raised voices which some people may find a problem but with a good sense of humour. Gestures form a large part of their communication; Italians retain eye contact, keep close propinquity and are very affectionate during their engagement. Fillipo (2019) ascertains that Italians are mostly known for 'talking with their hands.

Social and Religious Lifestyle

Italians stay tight through meetups in social places or mainly through family meals in their different homes. They have different cuisines as part of their staple food, which always comprises of vegetables, cheese, olive oil, meat, pasta and fish. Their social life revolves a lot around celebration and eating festivities. They are a very religious lot, and 95% of them are mostly Catholics with several days dedicated to celebrating saints throughout the year.

Ailments and Healing

There are several studies which have been carried out in the past on Italian traditional medication to treat malaria, epilepsy and other diseases. According to Romeo et al. (2014), these studies have revealed that major components used to come up with the remedy were made up of animal parts, plants parts and a wide range of religious practices. The ailing people looked up to God for healing through devotion and prayers and believed God was the only source of healing. There were several tools that were used to symbolize and to identify the different diseases together with their cure. These were mainly employed using articulate treatment methods according to their cultural setting, which included values, attitude, beliefs and viewpoint regarding life. These factors had been passed on from one generation to another and were manifested via rituals, etiquette, taboos and customs. An example is 'malocchio' which is the Italian word for an evil eye is considered the source of physical illness and most healers treated it by rituals, oaths, amulets and recited formulas.

They practised assorted healing procedures all connected to religion, which include; invoking saints and blessings, going for pilgrimages, and using holy water, which are practices still going on in the current society. Invoked saints were linked to how they were killed during their martyrdom, for instance, Saint Donato and Saint Valentino who were eliminated through decapitation were viewed as defenders of epileptics, and Saint Lorenzo who was burnt alive was viewed as the healer of burns. Diseases were viewed as a form of punishment and healing came by lessening sin, and therefore, they went for pilgrimages. Holy water was used as a source of treatment for various diseases and driving evil away, for example, sprinkling in areas or families prone with a set of calamities would end them. A blessing from the priests was also considered a form of healing. Sick people would go to the priest for blessings, which would involve blessing the ailing area, wearing a blessed cloth and eating blessed food would heal sores too (Romeo et al. 2014).


Due to their staunch nature on religious and cultural beliefs, A nurse taking in a patient of Italian descent should consider these aspects when engaging them. These can include gathering information in line with; cause of the illness, the severity of the illness, previous cases of illness if any and the treatment method used then, the preferred method of treatment and some of the effects of having the disease personally and in the larger socially. Italian traditional society has always looked up to religion and spirituality as crucial aspects of curing diseases. This trend has been carried on to modern times where most Italian patients believe that apart from medicine, these are equally significant facets in sustaining their health. It is therefore important that health practitioners put this factor into consideration when dealing with their patients of this descent.


De Filippo, A. (2019, April 5). Italian Non-Verbal Greetings. Retrieved from

Evason, N., (2017). Italian Culture. Retrieved from

Lovering, S., (2006). Cultural attitudes and beliefs about pain. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 17(4),

Romeo, N., Gallo, O., & Tagarelli, G. (2015). From Disease to Holiness: Religious-based health remedies of Italian folk medicine (XIX-XX century). Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 11(1), 50.

Thomas, A. J. (2019). Italian Family Life. Retrieved from HYPERLINK ""

United States Population, 2019 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs). (2019, May 14). Retrieved from HYPERLINK ""

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Essay Example on Italian Traditional Health Beliefs. (2023, Jan 04). Retrieved from

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