A Case of Culture: How Cultural Brokers Bridge Divides in Healthcare
New Degree Press (2021)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (01/2022)
“A Case of Culture”, by Snigdha Nandipati, is an eye-opening study on the problems of culture and the healthcare system, specifically in the immigrant population.
This author is a strong advocate for helping alleviate the barriers to healthcare and supports what she calls cultural brokers. She explains the three primary existing healing systems in the world today, including the biomedicine of Western cultures, healing of a supernatural nature, and holistic healing. Because our world cultures are blending more every day, we can see a big difference in the ways various cultures practice medicine or healing. This book takes a look at the special circumstances encountered by immigrants in need of healthcare in a Western world, and what we can do to shorten the gaps. This is where cultural brokers come into play. For example, a cultural broker might explain to a traditional Western doctor how important herbal healing is to a particular patient, or the strong role faith would play into a particular patient’s healing process.
I love the way the author encourages the healthcare system to take an openminded approach with immigrant patients and their special, individual needs. This is a more human, personal approach, respecting cultures, boundaries, and lifestyles. A patient accustomed to incorporating herbal remedies may need the assistance of a broker to act as a go-between in order to get the best treatment for the patient. The solution may be to combine prescribed medicine in pill form, along with herbal treatment.
Instead of merely explaining this concept in words, Nandipati brings the issues to life by providing anecdotes and stories, each one highlighting a cultural aspect and how it could benefit from a broker. It deviates from the one-treatment modality-fits-all approach we find in a lot of areas around the world, especially Western medicine. This individualized approach gives dignity and reassurance to all cultures. One of my favorite takeaways is that this approach can encourage some cultures to seek medical treatment, when they may not have before due to upbringing or mistrust of a Western, mainstream healthcare system. Readers will appreciate this broad, multiculturalist viewpoint, and the goal of inclusion.
“A Case of Culture”, by Snigdha Nandipati, would be the perfect gift for a family member reluctant to consider Western medicine, or for any helping professional interested in bridging the gap between culture and healthcare.