Module 4 – Part 2 – Stereotyping

Migrants very likely appreciate health workers who know and respect their cultural traditions and who have an informed interest in their origin. The concept of culture does not need to be abandoned completely, but stereotypes and generalisations need to be avoided (Mock-Muñoz de Luna et al. 2015, 13). Migrants might have different needs concerning, for instance, the compliance to religious rules or a stronger than usual sense of shame. People from different cultures will certainly be appreciative of certain sensitivity to these needs and the patient-doctor/ physician/ health care worker interaction will certainly improve.

Nevertheless, in your medical practice you are not dealing with people from a homogenous community, but with individuals from a diverse background with unique life stories and experiences. It is necessary to focus on the medical and psychological needs of a particular patient. Still, their actual social environment should also be taken into account so as to understand their point of view, their social world and the structural limitations they may face (for example in the asylum seeking process or in their housing situation). By doing so you can “understand the illness as the patient understands, feels, perceives, and responds to it” (Kleinman and Benson 2006). As a family physician/ primary health care provider/X you have all the practical experience to sensitively probe for all these aspects and how they influence the illness of your patient and your interaction with them.

 See for example related chapters in this course