Culture presents a vital component of society and defines many aspects of society’s life, including the concepts of health and illnesses as well as common health practices. The culture of a particular group or population includes the collection of people’s ideas and beliefs about social norms and people’s behavior. Therefore, culture determines people’s lifestyles and perceptions of health and care in the first place. Early ancestors in different cultures tended to have different explanations of unknown natural phenomena such as change of seasons and often connected their perceptions with religion. As a result, different cultures have various approaches to the theme of health, mental health, diseases, and death. For example, mental illnesses were often stigmatized in society due to religious influences.
Moreover, as culture defines social norms and people’s behavior, it influences the people’s lifestyle, the level of organization of the healthcare system, and the severity of illnesses. With policies focused on transparency and a patient-centered approach in modern healthcare, the cultural differences are less apparent but still present. The implicit influence of cultural differences in healthcare may include the level of awareness about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and understanding of a healthy and nutritious diet. A more direct influence of cultural differences in the healthcare environment could be found in perception and expression of pain and discomfort and level of trust between the doctor and the patient. The research conducted by Sung and Park (2019) determined that perceptions of healthcare and requirements for hospital care and services vary in patients from different language groups. The authors also noticed similarities between patients from different language groups that historically have bilateral relationships (Sung and Park, 2019).
Sung, S., & Park, H. A. (2019). Perceived cultural differences in healthcare for foreign patients visiting South Korea: tool development and measurement. BMC Health Services Research, 19, 1-11. Web.