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The O’Rourke family lives on a small farm in Iowa and comprises David


The O’Rourke family lives on a small farm in Iowa and comprises David, aged 30; his wife, Mary, aged 29; and two children: Bridget, aged 7, and Michael, aged 6. Both David and Mary are second-generation Irish. Before purchasing their farm 5 years ago, David sold farm equipment in Ohio. The O’Rourkes are Catholic; Mary converted to Catholicism when they married.

David, who works long hours outdoors, is concerned about profitability from his corn crop because of the unpredictable size of the harvest, and thus, his income varies depending on the weather. Mary did not work outside the home because she wanted to be with their children until they started school. However, because both children are now school age, Mary has discussed with David the possibility of working part time to supplement the family income. He would prefer that she stay at home, but Mary is anxious to return to the workforce and believes the timing is right.

Both David and Mary are happy with just two children and do not desire more. They use the rhythm method for family planning.

Eating a healthy breakfast is important to the O’Rourkes. Because eggs are readily available on the farm, they have fried eggs with potato bread and juice at least four times a week. Their main meal in the evening usually includes meat, potatoes, and a vegetable. David enjoys a glass of beer with dinner.

David has been a little edgy lately because of his concerns about the corn crop. He admits to having some minor chest pain, which he attributes to indigestion. His last visit to a physician was before their marriage. Mary knows David is concerned about finances and believes it would help if she had a job.

Bridget and Michael spend a lot of time outside playing and doing some minor chores for their parents. Both children enjoy school and are looking forward to returning in the fall. Bridget is starting to show concern over her appearance. She does not like her red hair and all the freckles on her face. Her teacher has noted that Bridget has trouble reading and may need glasses. Michael wants to be a farmer like his Dad but worries about his Dad being tired at night.

The O’Rourkes have not taken a vacation since they were married. They go to the state fair in the summer, which is the extent of their trips away from home. They are active in the church and attend services every Sunday.

Study Questions

1. Describe the O’Rourke family structure in terms of individual roles.

2. Identify two potential health problems related to the O’Rourke’s dietary practices.

3. Identify potential health-risk factors for the O’Rourkes as a family unit and for each family member.

4. Explain the relationship between risk factors and ethnicity specific to the O’Rourke family and their Irish heritage.

5. Describe culturally competent health-promotion strategies for the identified risk factors for the O’Rourke family.

6. Describe the O’Rourke family’s fertility practices. Are they congruent with their Irish background and religious beliefs?

7. Describe the O’Rourke family’s communication patterns.

8. What are the predominant health conditions among Irish immigrants?

9. Explain the significance of the Great Potato Famine for Irish Americans.

10. Name two genetic diseases common among Irish Americans.

11. Identify accepted fertility practices for Irish American Catholics.

12. Identify three sources of strength for the Irish American in times of illness.

13. Identify traditional home remedies commonly used by Irish Americans.

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