Illness and treatment perceptions of ethiopian immigrants and their doctors in Israel

Marian Reiff, Havah Zakut, Michael A. Weingarten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objectives. Patient-provider misunderstandings arising from disparate medical and cultural concepts can impede health care among immigrant populations. This study assessed the extent of disagreement and identified the salient problems of communication between Israeli doctors and Ethiopian. Methods. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 59 Ethiopian immigrants. Self-reports of health status and effectiveness of treatment were compared with evaluations by the primary care physician and supplemented by qualitative data from descriptions of illness, observations of medical visits, informant interviews, and participant observations conducted by the anthropologist. Results. Health status and effective ness of treatment were rated significantly higher by the doctor than by the occurred mainly for illnesses with stressrelated or culture-specific associations. long-term immigrants may alter their expectations of treatment but continue to experience symptom that are cuturally, but not biomedically, meaningful. Conclusions. Misunderstandings between immigrant patients and their doctors emerge from the biomedical relate illnesses and from culture-based discrepancies in concepts of illness and healing. Including trained translators in medical teams can reduce medical misunderstandings and increase patient satisfaction among immigrant population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1814-1818
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


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