The Relationship Between Culture, Health Conceptions and Health Practices

This study investigated cultural variations in health conceptions and practices using a quasi experimental design. A total of 60 participants, recruited from three cultural groups in Canada, were individually interviewed between the fall of 2009 and the fall of 2010. Transcribed interviews were quantified according to the importance participants ascribed to emergent themes. The data generated three intriguing findings: (a) Consistent with an interdependent self-construal or ecological self, First Nations participants were more likely to report health conceptions and practices that expand beyond the individual self to include their family, the community, and the environment when compared with Anglophones and Francophones of European ancestry; (b) First Nations participants placed more importance on maintaining their traditions and culture as a health-promoting strategy, compared with Anglophones and Francophones, and (c) some of the health conceptions identified by all three groups significantly predicted the practices they engage in to promote health. These findings suggest that culture has a noticeable impact on health conceptions, which in turn influence health practices. There are at least two important implications: (a) Health policy makers need to take into account the role culture plays in the way people conceptualize health to ensure that health policies and programs reflect the particular beliefs and needs of their target populations and (b) health-care professionals need to be aware of the diverse views of their patients to provide culturally appropriate care.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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