Dictionary of Spiritual and Cultural Values for Healthcare Professionals

A Dictionary of Spiritual & Cultural Values for Healthcare Professionals is written by Healthcare Chaplaincy for healthcare professionals to help us be more sensitive to different religions and cultures so that we can serve our patients and families better.  Click here to download the PDF file.

1.  This Dictionary is a guide that is meant to describe beliefs and practices generally found within a particular cultural or religious group. As often as possible, we have verified the content with people who self-identify with that particular group. That process is ongoing. We have consulted printed and online sources considered the most authoritative in this content area. However, we understand as should the reader that not everyone who identifies with a particular cultural or religious group will adhere to the beliefs or values as presented.

2. The Dictionary is not complete–and it may not ever be. Thus, the reader will see that much information is still missing because we have not found sources on a given topic that we consider authoritative. We plan to post new versions of the Dictionary as we accumulate new information. As this Dictionary is a work in progress, we welcome feedback and contributions via email to Rev. George Handzo, BCC.

Cultural & Spiritual Sensitivity ─ A Learning Module for Health Care Professionals and Dictionary of Patients’ Spiritual & Cultural Values for Health Care Professionals were developed by the Pastoral Care Leadership and Practice Group of HealthCare Chaplaincy, New York, NY. (Revision and update of earlier work by the Rev. Susan Wintz, BCC and the Rev. Earl Cooper, BCC).

Table of Contents includes:

Introduction 6


Western Religions
Comparison of Jewish, Christian and Muslim Traditions 7
Judaism 8
Christianity 11
Christian Science 11
Eastern Orthodox 13
Jehovah’s Witness 15
Mormonism 16
Protestantism 17
Roman Catholicism 18
Seventh-day Adventism 20
Islam (Muslim) 21
Sunni vs. Shiite 23

Eastern Religions
Buddhism 24
Hinduism 26
Sikhism 28
Other Religions
Bahá’Ă­ 30
2 Native American 32
Rastafarian Movement 34
Santeria 36
Voodoo 36
Wicca 37


Major American Cultures
African-American/ Black Culture 39
Hispanic-American Culture 42
Native American Culture 45
African Cultures
Somali-American Culture 48
Caribbean Cultures
Cuban-American Culture 51
Haitian-American Culture 53
Jamaican-American Culture 56
Middle East/South Asian Cultures
Arab-American Culture 59
East Indian-American Culture 62
Iranian-American Culture 65
East Asian Cultures
3 Chinese-American Culture 68
Filipino-American Culture 71
Japanese-American Culture 74
Korean-American Culture 77
Vietnamese-American Culture 80
Euro-Asian Cultures
Gypsy / Roma Culture 83
Russian-American Culture 87