Module 4 – Part 2 – Introduction

In your practice as family physician/ primary health care provider/X you are used to treating people with different socio-cultural and economic backgrounds – both Austrians and patients with a migration background – on a daily basis. This refers also to your practice before the current refugee crisis. Due to the strong migration flow in the last 18 months, a larger number of people than usual came to Austria/Hungary/X, and you as a family physician/ primary health care provider/X might face new challenges. Nevertheless, also in this new situation you can build on your knowledge and socio-cultural competence that you have acquired in years of medical practice.

The refugees who came to Europe in the recent past are not one single homogenous group of “refugees”, neither can they be subdivided into smaller homogenous groups of, for instance, “the Syrians,” “the Afghans,” or “the Somali.” There is a wide diversity of social, cultural, socioeconomic, ethnic and religious backgrounds among the people who continue to come here, as well as there is a wide diversity in age, gender and family status among them. All of them have their unique life stories and experiences.

This chapter gives you a brief introduction into socio-cultural-economic aspects of health and illness, distress, or pain. Furthermore, it shall give you an introduction into communication strategies that support you in bridging between the duties and processes of health care and the patient’s point of view. It shall support you in understanding his or her way of experiencing an illness in a new environment, as well as his or her wishes and preferences.