Cultural Competency and Haitian Immigrants


Communication ... page 2

Purnell's Model

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  Page 5

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Family roles & organization
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Workforce issues

Biocultural ecology

High-risk behaviors

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Death rituals

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Health care practices
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Health care practitioners




  • When speaking with friends, Haitians will use direct eye contact, and an active tone of voice. Eye contact is usually avoided with people of a higher socioeconomic status or position of authority.29, 30

  • Tone reflects emotion. Speech is usually accompanied by hand gestures. Speech may get loud, but this does not necessarily mean there is anger.15, 29, 30, 36

  • Except when discussing certain personal topics,  communication tends to be direct.36  Uneducated Haitians may be unwilling to expose their lack of knowledge to Americans, so will keep to themselves and may seem timid.29, 30

  • When in informal situations,  touch is accepted, like embracing or kissing. In formal situations, a stern handshake is the accepted greeting.15, 29, 30 Gender is also a factor in touch; people do not generally embrace members of the opposite sex, even if they are friends. 29, 30
  • Haitians require much less personal space than Americans, so they may position themselves close to another in communication.15, 36  

  • Haitians may smile and nod their heads rather than reveal their lack of understanding.29, 30

  • Like other impoverished cultures, Haitians tend to be oriented in the present. It is not considered rude to be late to appointments. 29, 30, 35 For example, a wedding invitation will show a starting time of 6pm, when the actual starting time is in fact 7 or 7:30 .29 However, Haitians can be on time if punctuality is stressed or if being on time is a priority for them. "Many Haitians will be late for doctor appointments but be at work early every day. It must be a priority thing".37 

  • Name formats are similar to that of traditional U.S. name formats.  Women are given a first, middle and last name. When she marries, she loses the last name of her father and is always called by her husband's last name.30


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