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Transcultural general practice in Scandinavia

, : Transcultural general practice in Scandinavia. Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care 20(1): 6-9

During the past 20 years, many immigrants from all over the world have settled in Scandinavia. Primary care physicians today are therefore meeting patients from a variety of socio-cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. In addition to endemic diseases, the new immigrants are exposed to Western illness and disease patterns and psychic reactions to life events, and the on-going adaptive process may add to the dilemmas of segregation in housing and work. During consultations, doctors and patients frame this ill health by culturally determined ideas of health, illness, and treatment. This paper deals with Scandinavian studies concerning transcultural issues in primary care by exploring the Scandinavian literature. Relatively few studies were found in the databases. Many of them were small, making it difficult to generalise the findings. Descriptive explorative studies suggest problems in communication, behaviour, mental ill health, physiotherapy, and organisation of care. No studies were found concerning issues such as genital mutilation, environmental diseases, family conflicts, or chronic disorders other than pain. From action research studies or randomised-controlled trials, it can be cautiously concluded that psychiatric care may be little accepted in many immigrant groups and that immigrants with non-specific pain are best handled in primary care where dialogue about pain is to be preferred to traditional treatment. Brief advice regarding communication and organisation of care is also given. In our opinion, studies using action research methods are to be preferred, since clinical transcultural care deals with complex illness patterns, including many emotional dilemmas.


PMID: 12086287

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