Cultural Competency and Haitian Immigrants


Family Roles and Organization ... page 1

Purnell's Model

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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




  • Haitian society is a matriarchal society, yet the man has the ultimate control.15, 28, 29, 30, 35, 36 However, once Haitians come to the U.S.,  the relationship may become more egalitarian. 32 

  • Over 80% of unions in Haiti are common-law or plasaj.4, 15, 21, 24  Having several plasaj relationships is not uncommon and polygamy is accepted among males.15, 28, 29, 30, 35   

  • The person that makes the health care decisions may vary between mother, father or elder family member.29

  • In homes with two parents, the roles appear to follow gender lines. Women are responsible for the children and the home, but in Haiti economics seem to dictate that the woman earn a wage.  Since many Haitian households are single-parent, the women are forced to do all of the work,  including financially supporting the family.  Haitian women rank near the bottom of various gender equality surveys and suffer from a high rate of domestic abuse.24  Married women in Haiti were legally considered minors until 1979.24

  • Family is very important to Haitians, and emigration does not mean that their obligation to the family in Haiti has lessened. Family members that have emigrated are still financially responsible to those in Haiti. They also may help to finance others' immigration to the U.S. When new immigrants arrive, they often live with a friend or relative.4, 35  Haitians are expected to be generous and often will take in new refugees, even if there are no ties to these individuals.4, 17

Family Roles and Organization: 

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