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The Explanatory Model

Decent Essays
In The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Fadiman describes the “explanatory model”, developed by Arthur Klienman. This model posits eight question aimed at ascertaining the patient’s and their family’s interpretation and analysis of the illness affecting the patient. Although these questions may seem fairly simple and evident at first, the knowledge gained by them, especially when dealing with patients from a greatly different cultural background than the medical personnel, can offer great insight into the family’s beliefs and enable the medical staff to prescribe the most effective treatment for the patient. However, the explanatory model can only be effective if truthful answers are obtained from the patient. Especially when dealing…show more content…
For instance, in Lia’s case, asking these questions, a doctor may have learned that according to her family, soul loss was the cause for her ailment and that the family believed she should receive a little medicine and a little natural remedies. Whether she takes this to mean that the family did not understand western medicine and thus, it would be beneficial to Lia to push for the treatment she deemed right despite the family’s disapproval or he takes this to mean that she should limit the extent and changes in Lia’s medication in order to gain better cooperation from the family, makes a huge difference to Lia’s health. Therefore, it is essential to educate medical professionals to interpret their answers in a way that can improve the quality of the patient’s care. Furthermore, doctors may be resistant to asking these questions thinking that they waste precious time indulging delusions instead of treating the patient. However, as Neil and Peggy came to realize, all the medicine in the world is ineffective if the physician cannot communicate to the patient and get them to comply with the doctor’s request. Consequently, it is also important to inform the medical staff of the reasoning behind these questions and appeal to their innate desire to elicit the best outcome with the least harm, cost and time by educating them in the long term advantageous of being culturally-competent in their medical
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