Culture, Politics, and Medicine in Costa Rica: An Anthropological Study of Medical Change

Culture, Politics, and Medicine in Costa Rica: An Anthropological Study of Medical Change

Culture, Politics, and Medicine in Costa Rica: An Anthropological Study of Medical Change

Culture, Politics, and Medicine in Costa Rica: An Anthropological Study of Medical Change

Excerpt

Culture, Politics, and Medicine examines the Costa Rican patient within the context of a developing nation's health care system. It analyzes the determinants by which the cultural and political development of the health care system affect therapeutic success and patient satisfaction. A medical anthropological approach to health care contrasts underlying cultural and family values, which influence the health behavior of the individual, with the socio- political structure of the medical institution, the determining factor in both the doctor-patient interaction and the course of medical treatment. The integration of historical, cultural, and political data generates a model of patient health behavior. The health behavior model suggests policy recommendations for the delivery of health care services in any medical system which has a specific ideological or political affiliation.

The study was begun with the intention of demonstrating how family and cultural values determine health behavior regardless of the institutional or professional setting. All sectors of health care, including folk medicine and popular remedies, as well as all major hospitals and clinics, were observed in order to gather information on how values and behavior were linked. In the process of this investigation, however, new hypotheses of health behavior based on the nationalization of the medical institutional structure and on political ideology emerged from the data. Thus, the study presents the important dimensions of institutional politics and cultural expectations in the determination of patient health behavior for students and practitioners in the social sciences, public health, Latin American studies, health care, and health planning. Although family values, cultural beliefs, and practices play a role in health seeking behavior, the institutional and ideological elements of a national health care system influence the quality of both doctor-patient interaction and patient satisfaction. The medical relationship is ultimately damaged and therapeutic effectiveness is impeded . . .

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