Date of this Version
Relationships between Middle Eastern patients and Western health care professionals are often troubled by mutual misunderstanding of culturally influenced values and communication styles. Although Middle Easterners vary ethnically, they do share a core of common values and behavior that include the importance of affiliation and family, time and space orientations, interactional style and attitudes toward health and illness. Problems in providing health care involve obtaining adequate information, “demanding behavior” by a patient's family, conflicting beliefs about planning ahead and differing patterns of communicating grave diagnoses or “bad news.” There are guidelines that will provide an understanding of the cultural characteristics of Middle Easterners and, therefore, will improve rather than impede their health care. A personal approach and continuity of care by the same health care professional help to bridge the gap between Middle Eastern cultures and Western medical culture. In addition, periodic use of cultural interpreters helps ameliorate the intensity of some cultural issues.
Date Posted: 26 August 2009