Cultural Variations in Health Conceptions: A Qualitative Approach


This research studied health conceptions among three cultural groups — Anglophones, Francophones, and First Nations. A total of 60 participants were individually interviewed in an urban area of central Canada. Intriguing findings include the following: (a) health was defined both as an achievable end state and a continuous process towards better health, (b) the specific structures needed both in the process of becoming healthier and to achieve the state of health were clearly identified, and (c) apparent cultural differences were noted: Anglophones and Francophones defined health as a self-contained concept, whereas First Nations participants viewed health as transcending the self to include their family, their community, and the environment at large. One theoretical implication of these findings is that health can no longer be viewed as a static state; it is a constantly changing process to maintain and improve one’s health. A practical implication is that it is imperative for health professionals to learn the differing conceptions of health of their culturally diverse patients to provide culturally sensitive care. For health policy makers, these findings highlight the need to develop culturally appropriate policies and programs that reflect the concerns of members of cultural minority groups.

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