Health and Culture

Health and Culture

Historically, culture produced a profound impact on the healthcare system and people representing different cultures often have different, if not to say antagonistic views on healthcare services. In such a context, the effectiveness of the treatment of patients suffering from such serious diseases as cancer, as is the case of Billy Begay, may face unsurpassable barriers from the part of patients. In actuality, Billy Begay is unwilling to provide his consent and he refuses from the operation after the consultations with Dr. York, but such a decision is not the result of his unwillingness to get cured, but it is rather the result of the cultural gaps and erroneous approach of Dr. York to his patient, which, as the matter of fact, is the result of his ignorance about the Navajo culture. On the other hand, it is obvious that if the doctor was conscious of cultural peculiarities and basic norms of the Navajos, he would likely choose a different approach to his patient and he could talk Billy Begay in and convince him that the surgery is really essential.
On analyzing the entire situation depicted in the video trailer, it is important to underline that Dr. York has made a series of mistakes which influenced the decision of Billy Begay and which are vitally important for the patient. First of all, the trailer shows the clashes of two different cultures and two different philosophies of healing and treatment. On the one hand, there is Dr. York who is busy and concerned with his patients health, but he attempts to inform the patient as much as possible about the effects of the treatment, including the warning about the possibility of the lethal outcome of the surgery. On the other hand, there is Billy Begay, a conservative Navajo, who is convinced that healing has nothing to do with a rush, while the word death, used by the doctor, has shocked the patient. Obviously, taking into consideration the cultural background the doctor could not have used such a word in his conversation with the patient for it is this word which has, to a significant extent, defined the decision of Billy Begay. In addition, Billy Begay is convinced in the importance of the harmony, which is a key concept for the effective treatment. He needs to live in harmony and he cannot trust to the doctor who is so busy and materialistic, which is absolutely unacceptable for the patients whose spiritual world constitutes an essential part of his physical existence and, therefore, is essential for the treatment.
In such a situation, the approach to the patient should be different. It is possible to recommend using the assistance of his granddaughter to explain his state and the necessity of the surgery. This will help avoid cultural conflicts because she could adopt the message of the doctor to the norms of the Navajos. At the same time, the doctor should apparently behave in a different way and he should pay more attention to his patient.

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