European and Greek Heritage and Health Beliefs

European and Greek Heritage and Health Beliefs

Cultural Group: European American

A Brief History

  • Descendants of the first European settlers;
  • Have always been the largest group;
  • The Spanish were the first Europeans in America (Cross, 2017);
  • German, Irish, and British immigrants – the first wave;
  • The second wave – mainly Southern and Eastern Europe.

Values and Worldview

  • Free will and individual choice;
  • Objective knowledge and science;
  • Taking pride in the country of origin;
  • Individualism and independence;
  • Emphasis on work and material possessions.

Language and Communications Patterns

  • The English language dominates;
  • Require personal space (Brzozowska & Chlopicki, 2015);
  • Avoid physical contact with strangers;
  • Different nations added their vocabulary to English;
  • Contributing to geographical names.

Art and Other Expressive Forms

  • Develop the European heritage;
  • Exploiting new technologies;
  • Adhering to strong literature traditions;
  • Outstanding achievements in all spheres;
  • High capitalization of art.

Norms and Rules

  • Minor differences due to national customs;
  • Respect for different cultures and religions;
  • The majority adhere to Christian ethics;
  • Families are centered around children;
  • Have strong political opinions.

Lifestyle Characteristics

  • The trend for self-reliance;
  • Being unique and believing in themselves;
  • Earning as early as possible;
  • Possession of strong work ethics;
  • Striving for professional and personal success.

Relationship Patterns and Common Rituals

  • Have wide nets of weak connections;
  • Less emphasis on traditional marriage;
  • Tendency to marry in their thirties;
  • Reverence for family gatherings and holidays;
  • Patriarchy prevails in families.

Degree of Assimilation or Marginalization from Mainstream Society

  • A third of the American population;
  • High level of assimilation;
  • Set trends across the groups;
  • Marginalization is low;
  • Easily socialize with different cultural groups.

Health Behaviors and Practices

  • Fresh air is the basis for wellbeing;
  • Regular jogging and fitness;
  • Healthy diet, vegan practice;
  • Attention to body image and beauty;
  • When in sickness, ask relatives and friends for help.

Socio-Cultural Group: Greek American

A Brief History

  • Came from Turkey, the Balkans, and Egypt;
  • Failed to colonize Florida in 1768 (Moskos, 2017);
  • The first community developed in New Orleans;
  • In 1924 got the lowest immigration quota (Jurgens);
  • Were severely discriminated against.

Values and Worldview

  • Adherence to democracy through history;
  • The heritage of Ancient Greece;
  • Family and local community;
  • Loving and enjoying life;
  • Work hard to achieve success.

Language and Communications Patterns

  • Treasure their native language;
  • Teach Greek in special schools;
  • Prefer to communicate face-to-face;
  • Do not require much personal space;
  • Use expressive body language.

Art and Other Expressive Forms

  • The root of Western classical art;
  • Literature and philosophic tradition;
  • Characteristic sculpture and architecture;
  • Practice ethnic dances;
  • Celebrate traditional festivals.

Norms and Rules

  • Men and women kiss when greeting;
  • General respect for the elderly people;
  • Including children in adult activities;
  • Hospitality and sociability with strangers;
  • Dressing appropriately to the Church.

Lifestyle Characteristics

  • Have a slow pace of life;
  • Characterized by collectivist culture;
  • Spontaneous and flexible with plans;
  • Take afternoon naps;
  • Strong religious tradition.

Relationship Patterns and Common Rituals

  • Men are expected to be breadwinners;
  • Women are responsible for the household;
  • Advocate conventional marriage;
  • Close connections with extended families;
  • Meeting at coffeehouses with friends.

Degree of Assimilation or Marginalization from Mainstream Society

  • Two-thirds stress their Greek identity;
  • Largely live in cities;
  • Loyalty to traditions and ethnic groups;
  • Marriages between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox;
  • An equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

Health Behaviors and Practices

  • Try to avoid hospitals;
  • Prevent illness with folk remedies (Lundy & Janes, 2014);
  • Greek diet and exercise;
  • Caring for family and friends;
  • Using herbs as a medicine.

Both Groups

A comparison and contrast analysis of common characteristics and distinguishing traits between the groups

  • The Greeks are more collective-centered;
  • Both groups are patriotic;
  • Both mostly live in cities;
  • Close in religious beliefs (Christianity);
  • The Greeks are more traditional in social relations.

Discussion of Differential Approaches Needed by Health Care Professionals

  • Establishing trustful relationships with Greek families;
  • Educating on clinical medicine;
  • Importance of timely professional help;
  • Respect for traditional values;
  • Paying special attention to children.


Brzozowska, D. & Chlopicki, W. (2015). Culture’s software: Communication styles. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

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Cross, J. A. (2017). Ethnic landscapes of America. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Jurgens, J. (n. d.) Greek Americans. Web.

Lundy, K. S. & Janes, S. (2014). Community health nursing (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Moskos, P. C. (2017). Greek Americans: Struggle and success (3rd ed). Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.


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