Interaction between patient and health professional

Hermeneutics of cultural encounters


  • Anita Naemi Holm Aalborg University



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.

Author Biography

Anita Naemi Holm, Aalborg University

Anita Naemi Holm received her PhD in the Study of Religion from Aarhus University and she is currently an Associate Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark. Her research interests include philosophy of health and philosophy of culture. Her most recent book-length publication is Kulturmødets hermeneutik (Hermeneutics of Cultural Encounters) (2006, Forlaget Univers). 


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How to Cite

Holm, A. N. (2021). Interaction between patient and health professional: Hermeneutics of cultural encounters. Communication and Medicine, 16(3), 214–223.