describes culture

the degree to which one’s lifestyle reflects his or her respective tribal culture.

Heritage Consistency Heritage consistency is a concept developed by Estes and Zitzow (1980, p. 1) to describe “the degree to which one’s lifestyle reflects his or her respective tribal culture.” The theory has been expanded in an attempt to study the degree to which a person’s lifestyle reflects his or her traditional culture, such as European, Asian, African, or Hispanic. The values indicating heritage consistency exist on a continuum, and a person can possess value characteristics of both a consistent heritage (traditional) and an inconsistent heritage (acculturated). The concept of heritage consistency includes a determination of one’s cultural, ethnic, and religious background (Figure 2–5). It has been found over time that the greater a given person identifies with his or her traditional heritage, that is, his or her culture, ethnicity, and religion, the greater the chance that the person’s health and illness beliefs and practices may vary from those of the mainstream soci- ety and modern health care providers. For example, Estes and Zitzow observed that when people who identified highly with their tribal culture were treated for alcoholism by a medicine man, the outcome was more favorable than with treatment in the modern culture. Other research found that people with a high

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level of heritage consistency frequented health care sources not used by modern providers. The Heritage Assessment Tool, Appendix E, is a screening tool to assess for a person’s level of heritage consistency and is a useful tool in research development.


The word culture showed 1,550,000,000 results on February 23, 2012, on the Internet. An overview of the content on selected sites, however, is certainly in harmony with the forthcoming discussion. There is no single definition of culture, and all too often definitions omit salient aspects of culture or are too general to have any real meaning. Of the countless ideas of the meaning of this term, some are of particular note. The classical definition by Fejos (1959, p. 43) describes culture as “the sum total of socially inherited characteristics of a human group that comprises everything which one generation can tell, convey, or hand down to the next; in other words, the nonphysically inherited traits we possess.” Another way of understanding the concept of culture is to picture it as the luggage that each of us carries around for our lifetime. It is

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