Culture and Health – How do culture intervene with our relationship to health related questions?
Background: Our society is developing towards a multicultural society. More and more of our patients have another cultural background than the health worker. This can offer possible difficulties in communication. This is a challenge in the doctor-patient relationship.
Objective: I want to focus on how our cultural background forms our way of thinking in health questions. This is done by discussing what culture, health and illness/disease is, and how people deal with and understand this topics in different contexts. I also want to give an introduction to the worlds` leading medical systems and what their main theories and working methods are.
Results: Different cultures and medical systems give different answers to what health and good health is. Explanations on how and why illness and disease exist differs between different cultures. Acculturation is a process that intervenes with a persons` health situation and this is important to remember when meeting patients with a different cultural background than our own. The different medical systems are concerned with the same health questions, but the answers given are quite different. Culture can be seen as a way of communication and this can give problems in the transcultural consultation. To increase the outcome of this consultation a doctor can gain from getting cultural knowledge.
Conclusion: Cultural knowledge is an important tool when communicating with patients. It is also of great importance to remember that a person never is a culture, but an individual.