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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 53 (2011) 6, 355 - 364

Essay

A theoretical model for transcultural psychiatry

F. Kortmann

summary
background Patients of non-Western origin quite often fail to complete their course of treatment. The reasons are generally unclear. aim To suggest ways of tackling the problems in transcultural psychiatric practice.
method A theoretical model is presented, derived from clinical practice. The model provides insight into essentials of transcultural psychiatry. The model is based on the following: two interpretations of the concept of culture, an elaboration of the university-relativity dichotomy and a subdivision of the clinician’s work into three sections. These sections are: building a trusting relationship, making a diagnosis and carrying out treatment suited to the patient’s needs.
results The psychiatrist’s attitude to his patient varies according to the phase of treatment, sometimes it is more relativistic, at other times it is more universalistic.
conclusion The compliance of non-Western patients will probably increase when the clinician adopts a more relativistic approach during the phase of building a relationship with the patient and probably also during some parts of the treatment phase so that he can come closer to meeting the patient’s expectations.

keywords compliance, doctor-patient relationship, psychiatry, theory, transcultural