A Cross-Cultural Dialogue on Health Care Ethics


288 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88920-325-3
DDC 174'.2




Edited by Harold Coward and Pinit Ratanakul
Reviewed by Marilyn Mardiros

Marilyn Mardiros is an associate professor of health sciences at the
University of Ottawa.


The modern health-care system is neither value-free nor culturally
neutral. Rather, it is itself a culture with its own belief system,
social structure, initiation rituals, language, code of conduct, and
educational system. As a product of European Enlightenment thought,
contemporary biomedicine fosters an ethic of individualism and
self-interest, yet identity is constructed by participation within

In this study of the relation between culture and health-care ethics,
interdisciplinary researchers from Canada and Thailand point out that
definitions of health change over time; cultural meanings shift as
people integrate new meaning and perspectives into their stock of
knowledge, or as they experience a chronic or life-threatening illness.
The authors discuss social determinants—economics, employment, and
education, to name a few—that shape the meaning and experience of
health and illness. Each grapples with the ethical dilemma posed by the
fact that health-care professionals and researchers, as individuals who
hold positions of academic privilege, exert undue influence on the
belief systems and practices of others. Their solution to this dilemma
is a commitment to seek and understand the full range of notions of
health, meaning, and value that are assumed by all involved,
irrespective of cultural or ethnic backgrounds.

This scholarly text is recommended for university students and
professionals in a variety of disciplines, and for those interested in
understanding health issues within a cross-cultural perspective.


“A Cross-Cultural Dialogue on Health Care Ethics,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/8935.