Minn Med. 1992 Mar; 75(3): 15-7.
Cross-cultural medicine at home.
Duluth Family Practice Residency Program.
The cross-cultural approach allows the white physician to see the Ojibwe patient as a person with goals both similar and different from her own. Both the physician and the patient understand that the purpose of the visit is to retain or acquire good health. However, the expectations, communication, and the style of interaction may mask that concordance. Even the definitions of health differ between physician and patient. The Western medical model emphasizes normal physiologic health. The Ojibwe view incorporates spiritual health to a greater degree and emphasizes a wholistic approach encompassing a harmonious balance among the individual, community, and nature, as well as among body, mind, and spirit. The methods and attitudes so apparent in cross-cultural medical interactions are really no different from those needed for the delivery of good medical care generally. The more disparate a patient's and doctor's world views and lifestyles, the greater the effort required on both sides to communicate and collaborate. Nearly every patient encounter will be improved by a cross-cultural perspective. Acknowledgment and tolerance of health practices different from our own can lead to greater flexibility and understanding within the medical care system, thereby allowing for care with less confrontation and conflict. Physicians who incorporate such methods will likely gain better understanding of their own values and practices, which will enhance their care of all patients.