Impact of Social and Cultural Differences in Healthcare

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According to the CBP (Centraal Plan Bureau) in the Netherlands there’s a change in the expectations of patient and consumer and other social-cultural factors. As a consequence of increasing prosperity patients and consumers demand more quality and freedom of choice in health care. This can lead to a continuous pressure to increase for the better the level of care. Other factors as for example increasing level of education, the composition of a household etc. can influence the cost of health care.


- Emancipation of patients and consumers through internet and other media
- Some diseases are more common in some ethnic minorities
- Differentiation in cultural background and customs of consumers and patients especially in big cities like Amsterdam
- Level of knowledge of broad patterns of behavior and belief of physicians and other health professionals


- Lack of time, communication and financial resources
- Methods for education of healthcare personnel
- Less differentiation in healthcare knowledge due to background as e.g. education, cultural customs (communication within family norms and values) etc.
- Cultural generalizations will not fit every patient whom physicians see
- Low availability of physicians and other health professionals with different cultural background and customs


Patients differ in many ways. Some of these differences are due to patient illness, personality, socioeconomic class, or education, but the most profound differences may be cultural. Many health professionals think that if they just treat each patient with respect, they will avert most cultural problems. But that is not always the case. Some knowledge of cultural customs can help avoid misunderstandings and enable practitioners to provide better care.


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