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Purnell Model for American Cubans in Miami

American Cubans

  • One of the most successful sub-groups among Hispanics
  • 27% have a bachelor’s degree
  • Lower poverty rate compared to Hispanics
  • Higher income compared to Hispanics
  • Loyal to their traditions, customs, and language

Cubans are one of the most successful sub-groups among the citizens of the Hispanic or Latino race (Noe-Bustamante et al., 2019). The group members value their traditions and customs and often use Spanish as their primary language.

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  • Many speak both Spanish and English
  • Value respect and courtesy in relationships
  • Focus on the current problems
  • Prefer formal forms of speech
  • May speak in a loud manner

Nurses have to respect the communication norms of Cubans and should not perceive them as rude (Purnell & Fenkl, 2019). There might be a need to remind them to be punctual when visiting a doctor.

Family Organization

  • Cubans espouse the patriarchal family model
  • Place importance on family relations
  • Rely on family rather than the government
  • Cubans are overprotective towards their children
  • Often negative attitude towards homosexuality

Men dominate in families, and women often act as housewives. The family plays a central role in the lives of Cubans (Purnell & Fenkl, 2019).

Biocultural ecology and High-Risk Health Behaviors

  • Less likely to experience diabetes (Purnell & Fenkl, 2019)
  • Less likely to become obese
  • Due to sugary diet often lose teeth
  • More likely to be smokers
  • High mortality rate among adolescents

The incidence of diabetes and obesity among Cubans is low compared to other Hispanic groups. They often smoke and consume products high in sugar, which has a negative impact on their teeth.


  • Staple foods are high in calories
  • Late evening dinners are common
  • Often consume coffee after meals
  • Being overweight is perceived as positive
  • Diets may lack green vegetables (Purnell & Fenkl, 2019)

Mealtimes should be determined in advance to schedule medication-taking appropriately. Some dietary advice on cutting on sugary and fat products may be needed in order to improve health outcomes.

Pregnancy and Childbearing

  • Low incidence of preterm births
  • Low incidence of neonatal deaths
  • Family members celebrate in hospitals
  • Many mothers choose to breastfeed (Purnell & Fenkl, 2019)
  • High parental care compared to other Hispanics

Cuban women are less likely to experience preterm births and neonatal deaths of their children compared to other Hispanic sub-groups. Nurses have to educate pregnant women on the importance of medical evaluations.

Death Rituals and Spirituality

Manifest their grief through crying

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The majority of Cubans are Catholic

May perform special religious ceremonies

Beads, candles, small statues can be used

May express deeply fatalistic beliefs

The bereaved family members should be consoled, and their beliefs must not be challenged. Nurses should not interfere in the process of religious practices as long as they comply with the sanitation rules.

Healthcare Practices and Providers

  • Many seek help only in critical situations
  • Ask family members for health advice
  • Many use medicinal plants in treatments
  • Sick individuals depend on family
  • May consult folk healers Santeros

Cubans do not often visit doctors, instead relying on the family members’ advice and support (Purnell & Fenkl, 2019). Many Cubans drink herbal tea made of medicinal plants, and some seek the help of Santeros, traditional healers.

Sub-group Presence and Issues with the Local and Global Community

  • 66% of the U.S. total live in Florida
  • Constitute 34% of the Miami population total
  • Considerable share of first-generation immigrants
  • Problems with the language barrier
  • Do not visit doctors regularly

The Cuban population is one of the largest in Miami, comprising more than 100,000 people (Miami AreaConnect, n.d.). Many Cuban may not speak English which will require the services of an interpreter. Nurses also have to promote preventive healthcare among the members of Cuban families.

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Summary of Recommendations

  • Respect Cubans’ language and traditions
  • Preventive healthcare practices must be stressed
  • Patients’ family members should be involved
  • Traditional treatments have to be considered
  • Explain the danger of self-medication

Since Cubans heavily rely on their families, they also must be involved in the process of treatment. Nurses have to explain the importance of preventive measures and respect the traditions of this sub-group.


Miami AreaConnect. (n.d.). Miami population and demographics. Miami AreaConnect. Web.

Noe-Bustamante, L., Flores, A., & Shah, S. (2019). Facts on Hispanics of Cuban origin in the United States, 2017. Pew Research Center. Web.

Purnell, L. D., & Fenkl, E. A. (2019). Handbook for culturally competent care. Springer

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