Caring for the Amish: What Every Anesthesiologist Should Know

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Abstract

The Amish are a relatively isolated group with cultural and religious customs that differ significantly from the mainstream American population. Functioning as tight-knit communities with strong conservative Christian beliefs, the Amish maintain a culture based on intentional separateness from the outside world. Key aspects of Amish life include distinct clothing and behaviors, a unique language, an agrarian lifestyle, limited formal education, nonviolence/nonaggression, and a general lack of modern technology, as exemplified by the use of the traditional horse-and-buggy. The Amish have distinct health care practices, beliefs, and goals, and because of differing genetics and lifestyle, also have a distinct constellation of health and disease characteristics. This article reviews the core beliefs, community and lifestyle, health care beliefs and practices, and health characteristics of this unique and medically challenging population. Generalizable strategies for providing culturally competent care for any such ethnically, socially, or medically unique community are presented.

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