Interaction between patient and health professional
Hermeneutics of cultural encounters
Keywords:cultural encounter, hermeneutics, interaction, meaning, preconceptions, practical solutions
This article presents a theoretical view on culturally embedded thinking and action in encounters between patient and health professional. A key point of the analysis indicates that a highly efficient health sector may entail an implicit duality: on the one hand, the health professional can and often must relate pragmatically to the patient in order to solve problems and do so quickly, while on the other, the professional may be personally challenged when embedded cultural thinking leads to conflicts or dilemmas. This means that a purely pragmatic perspective will be challenged when such conflicts arise. The article looks at interrelated concepts such as ‘culture’, ‘prejudice’ and ‘meaning’ in order to shed light on the presuppositions that are brought into the cultural encounter between patient and health professional. This kind of analysis will hopefully contribute to a raised awareness of what is actually – apart from pragmatic problem solving – going on in such encounters. The conceptual framework used in this article primarily draws on the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, which is contrasted with the pragmatic perspective from the American philosopher Richard Rorty.
Arber, Sara, John McKinlay, Ann Adams, Lisa Marceau, Carol Link and Amy O’Donnell (2004) Influence of patient characteristics on doctors’ questioning and lifestyle advice for coronary heart disease: A UK/US video experiment. British Journal of General Practice 54 (506): 673–678.
Banks, James A. (2011) Multicultural education: Dimensions and paradigms. In James A. Banks (ed.) The Routledge International Companion to Multicultural Education, 9–33. New York: Routledge.
Cherny, Nathan (2012) Controversies in oncologist-patient communication: A nuanced approach to autonomy, culture, and paternalism. Oncology 26 (1): 37–43.
Dellenborg, Lisen, Carola Skott and Eva Jakobsson (2012) Transcultural encounters in a medical ward in Sweden. Journal of Transcultural Nursing 23 (4): 342–350. https://doi.org/10.1177/1043659612451258
Gadamer, Hans-Georg (1996) Truth and Method. London: Sheed and Ward.
Hanssen, Ingrid (2005) Helsearbeid i et flerkulturelt samfunn. Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk.
Helman, Cecil (2007) Culture, Health and Illness: An Introduction for Health Professionals. Hoboken, NJ: CRC Press. https://doi.org/10.1201/b13281
Jirwe, Maria, Kate Gerrish and Azita Emami (2010) Student nurses’ experiences of communication in cross-cultural care encounters. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences 24 (3): 436–444. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6712.2009.00733.x
Panico, Megan L., Grace Y. Jeng and Ursula C. Brewster (2011) When a patient refuses life-saving care: Issues raised when treating a Jehovah’s Witness. American Journal of Kidney Diseases 58 (4): 647–665. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.05.030
Price, Bob (2013) Countering the stereotype of the unpopular patient. Nursing Older People 25 (6): 27–35. https://doi.org/10.7748/nop2013.07.25.6.27.e448
Puddifoot, Katherine (2019) Stereotyping patients. Journal of Social Philosophy 50 (1): 69–90. https://doi.org/10.1111/josp.12269
Riis, Anita H. (2006) Kulturmødets hermeneutik. En filosofisk analyse af kulturmødets forudsætninger. Gylling, Denmark: Forlaget Univers
Rorty, Richard (1998)  On ethnocentrism: A reply to Clifford Geertz. In Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers, Volume 1, 203–210. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sarangi, Srikant (2012) The intercultural complex in healthcare encounters: A discourse analytical perspective. In Nivritti G. Patil and Cindy L. K. Lam (eds) Making Sense in Communication, 13–24. Hong Kong: IMHSE Publications.
Sleeper, Justin A. and Shelly S. Bochain (2013) Stigmatization by nurses as perceived by substance abuse patients: A phenomenological study. Journal of Nursing Education and Practice 3 (7): 92–98. https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v3n7p92
Würth, Kristina, Wolf Langewitz, Stella Reiter-Theil and Sylvie Schuster (2018) Their view: Difficulties and challenges of patients and physicians in cross-cultural encounters and a medical ethics perspective. BMC Medical Ethics 19 (70): 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-018-0311-4
How to Cite
copyright Equinox Publishing Ltd.