What is the concept of health? What is the relevance of culture to healthcare? What peer-reviewed sources can I use to support my definitions?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "health" is not only the absence of disease or sickness but a state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Different cultures have different attitudes toward health, including their willingness to seek healthcare, their communication around health-related issues, their beliefs about what causes illness, and their adherence to health-related behaviors. For example, some cultural groups are less likely to seek help, particularly men, as they see receiving help as a sign of weakness. Healthcare providers have to understand cultural variables when treating patients, as these variables can affect the relationship between the provider and patient and can affect the patient's adherence to a treatment plan. 

In the United States, there are significant health disparities among members of different racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic, and other groups (see the link to the CDC report below). Latinos, African-Americans, Native Americans, and low-income people are less likely to have health insurance and less likely to receive care. These groups also have worse health outcomes as a result. In addition, people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community may also be reluctant to seek health care. 


Freimuth V.S., & Quinn S.C. (2004). The contributions of health communication to eliminating health disparities. Am Journal of Public Health, 94(12), 2053-2055. 

Thomas, S.B., Fine, M.J., & Ibrahim, S.A. (2004). Health disparities: The importance of culture and health communication. Am J Public Health, 94(12), 2050.