Italian Patients and Their Cultural Features

Table of Contents

Italy is a republic located in the Southern part of Europe and surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. It shares borders with a number of European countries, including Switzerland, France, Austria, and Slovenia. Furthermore, two states, Vatican City and San Marino, are situated inside the territory occupied by Italy which means that they share a border with Italy exclusively. The country’s population amounts to approximately 60 million people, which places the nation in the twenty-third position on the list of countries by the number of citizens (“Italy population,” 2018). The country experiences a continuous decline of the population, although the rate of migration remains stable (“Italy population,” 2018). The majority of all Italian residents – more than 70 percent – live in urban areas. The official language of the state is Italian, although the country recognizes some minority languages as historically significant. Such languages include Catalan, Sardinian, Catalan among others.

Italians have a very rich history and culture. Their main values are work, family, religion, architecture, arts, and food (Zimmermann, 2017). This community has many distinguishing characteristics. For example, normally, Italians respect authority and their religion. However, when it comes to political figures or the church hierarchy, Italians might become very impudent. Due to different cultural specificities, Italian patients require special attention. There are different aspects such as communication or ethics that are relevant to health care. The main goals of this paper are to discuss cultural differences of this population and analyze factors pertinent to delivering professional care to Italian patients.

Communication Factors

There are different factors that have an impact on communication with Italians when they are outside their ethnic group. There are several types of such factors: physiological, environmental, and psychosocial. Psychological aspects are closely interrelated with psychosocial ones. Italians are usually direct communicators. They do not hide their emotions and are very forthright (“Italian culture,” n.d.). Therefore, people within this ethnic group expect similar attitude. They want their conversation partner to talk in a similar manner. They tend to dislike ambiguity and indirect speech. In addition, they typically prefer discussing their background.

Another important psychological characteristic is that Italians are eager to share their opinions. Therefore, they often can pay particular attention to small errors and give advice on how to correct them. It is important to avoid ignoring their inquiries and remarks. Finally, non-verbal communications such as physical contacts or gestures are very important to Italians. One of the most important environmental factors is silence. Italians tend to feel uncomfortable in a quiet and calm environment. They have a natural tendency to interact much, thus they require special attention. Such an aptitude might also manifest itself in a distinctly loud voice. One of the main psychosocial factors is stress. In order to cope with it, Italians often use humor. They might talk about very sensitive topics and be very sarcastic.

All the above-mentioned factors are especially important when communication occurs within this ethnic group. Italian people feel much more comfortable when they are in a familiar psychological and psychosocial environment. Therefore, the impact of such factors becomes more intense. For example, Italians often try to talk over each other, making their voices louder and louder (“Italian culture,” n.d.). Therefore, Italians get more outgoing when they come into contact with members of their ethnic group.

Beliefs and Health Practices

Italians often complain of all of their symptoms and require an immediate medical response. They hold some traditional beliefs related to the causes of different diseases. For example, Italians tend to think that the most important factors include winds, contamination, genes, and psychosomatic interactions (Spector, 2017). Such beliefs influence their decisions regarding medical interventions. Some Italian patients might refuse to have surgery because it exposes internal organs to the air. They suppose that it causes a more quick progression of a disease. Therefore, they are very sensitive to drafts. However, Italians often believe that fresh air is one of the most important factors that have a positive effect on health. Therefore, it is vital to keep rooms well ventilated. Another pertinent factor is a Mediterranean diet (Prinelli et al., 2015). Italians perceive this type of diet as very healthy, thus they emphasize its importance.

Another common belief is that contamination is one of the most dangerous health hazards. Therefore, Italians might tend to avoid sharing different things with individuals who are perceived to be unclean. Moreover, they might refuse to share a hospital’s room with such people. Also, Italian women have some superstitions related to pregnancy. For example, they believe that they have to eat food that they smell or should avoid certain moves to prevent miscarriage.

Barriers to Competent Health Care

Professional care providers should be aware of the existing cultural barriers that might affect delivering their services. First, Italians are strongly influenced by their religion. They believe that their faith helps them to restore health. Moreover, there are many fatalists in this community. This factor might turn into a barrier as they believe that terminal diseases are the manifestation of the will of God. For this reason, they might refuse to not only discuss their condition but also follow a prescribed treatment plan. Second, there may be a serious problem posed by the social peculiarities of the Italians. They may prefer not to address a hospital if they anticipate anxiety.

This barrier is rather crucial since healthcare workers need to have access to patients’ medical records and listen to their complaints in order to create an effective plan of treatment. As Cavalieri (2013) remarks, there are several vulnerable groups among the Italians whose health needs are not sufficiently met: low-income citizens, females, individuals living in distant regions, young people, and those who are divorced or widowed. The third significant barrier concerns gender issues. Female Italians may refuse to visit a male doctor due to the fear of exposing their body. If the only specialist available belongs to the opposite sex, the woman may choose not to use his services, which may lead to adverse health outcomes. Thus, healthcare employees should be aware of the Italians’ preferences and superstitions to be able to avert them and provide patients with the highest level of care.

Potential Ethical Dilemma

Taking into consideration the above-mentioned facts, some ethical dilemmas related to delivering care might take place. One of the most common problems of this kind is a refusal to continue or agree to the treatment due to religious beliefs. When a patient refuses all care, medical personnel have to resolve an ethical dilemma. On the one hand, each patient has a right of making autonomous choices. On the other hand, clinicians feel the need to abide by principles of beneficence and non-maleficence. Hence, different values come into conflict. For some nurses, for instance, it may be hard to agree with patients’ decision to forgo treatment regardless of their ability to assess the situation (Ingravallo, Sandroni, D’Addio, & Miccinesi, 2015). In this case, each situation may present a different possible solution. End-of-life care is the topic of debate in Italy, where this area of care was grey until 2017 when adults were granted the freedom to decide end-of-life medical care (Podoledo, 2017). These examples show a dismissal of patients’ autonomy from the clinicians’ side.

Another perspective reveals neglect from the patient’s side. The influence of religion on Italians leads to them still using practices that were created centuries ago and did not change under the force of innovation and technology (Romeo, Gallo, & Tagarelli, 2015). For example, blessings and healing prayers are still essential to Italian culture. Some Italians still use sacred objects and follow rituals to heal their ailments (Romeo et al., 2015). The prioritization of these methods over modern health care should be addressed in education and training of personnel. Medical workers should have sufficient cultural knowledge to deal with these situations and avoid conflicts with patients while helping them get better.


Cavalieri, M. (2013). Geographical variation of unmet medical needs in Italy: A multivariate logistic regression analysis. International Journal of Health Geographics, 12(1), 27.

Ingravallo, F., Sandroni, S., D’Addio, L., & Miccinesi, G. (2015). Do you agree with the doctor’s decision to continue treatment? A scenario-based study of hospital nurses in Italy. Annali dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanita, 51, 352-357.

(n.d.). Web.

(2018). Web.

Podoledo, E. (2017). The New York Times. Web.

Prinelli, F., Yannakoulia, M., Anastasiou, C. A., Adorni, F., Di Santo, S. G., Musicco, M.,… Leite, M. L. C. (2015). Mediterranean diet and other lifestyle factors in relation to 20-year all-cause mortality: A cohort study in an Italian population. British Journal of Nutrition, 113(6), 1003-1011.

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.

Spector, R.E. (2017). Cultural diversity in health and illness (9th ed.). London, England: Pearson.

Zimmermann, K. (2017). Web.

Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with Online Academic Experts
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
Don't really see any of sources I provided, but elsewise its great, thank you!
Customer 452697, May 8th, 2021
Emergency Management
Overall, I think it's a great service. I have yet to submit the assignment, so I don't know what kind of grade I'll get. But customer service was excellent. Reviews were made and the assignment proofed for satisfaction.
Customer 453015, December 15th, 2021
I just need some minor alterations. Thanks.
Customer 452547, February 10th, 2021
Nice work
Customer 453185, May 21st, 2022
It was a very long paper, but she followed all the instructions, and she even finished the paper 5 days before the due date. Will write an essay with her again, thanks!
Customer 452967, November 27th, 2021
Human Resources Management (HRM)
Always great! My son has been in critical health these last few semesters. Many times I have thought he wasn't going to make it and thought about quitting or postponing school until he was healthier but it always happens to be in the middle of the semester. This service has been a lifesaver for my mindset in helping keep my grades up and keep my son alive at the same time. I don't know if I could have made it through this period without it.
Customer 453077, June 6th, 2022
Thank you
Customer 453087, March 5th, 2022
Business and administrative studies
awesome job
Customer 453201, June 24th, 2022
Business and administrative studies
excellent work
Customer 453201, November 2nd, 2022
quick, fast and exact!
Customer 453027, May 24th, 2022
Thank you. No issues
Customer 453139, April 17th, 2022
English 101
thank you for the excellent work
Customer 452883, October 29th, 2021
Customer reviews in total
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
Customers referred by a friend
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat
Live ChatWhatsApp