The Culture of Illness

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The Culture of illness
Although the prescribed medical care may be identical, a person acts and is treated differently if he is sick at home or sick in the hospital.

children sick

In his home, the person is in a familiar environment; he can retain his sense of dignity, rights, and privileges and can insist on being treated on his own terms. He is reinforced by family and friends, who accord him special concessions. These prerogatives are generally disregarded when the sick person enters a hospital in the American health care system.
Hospitalization may be defined as confinement of a person to an institution, away from his family, for a varying amount of time. Its purposes may be diagnosis; care or treatment that is palliative, rehabilitative, or curative in nature; or restoration of the person to a previous state, such as return to a nonpregnant state after delivery.
Upon hospitalization, personal possessions are stripped from the person. Gone are familiar surroundings that afford a sense of security. Instead, there are various strange, disquieting, and bothersome odors, noises, and sights. At home the health care worker rings the bell and waits for the door to open. In the hospital the patient rings the bell and waits for a nurse to come. At home the doctor is on call, the nurse is a visitor, and the relatives belong. In the hospital the patient is admitted and discharged, the health care workers perform their duties, and relatives are the visitors. At home everyone present acknowledges the patient`s wishes. In the hospital all health care workers are in a distinct position to grant or withhold small and very precious favors from the patient, often depending on their personal judgement of him and his behavior.
References :
Brown, Esther Lucille, Newer Dimensions of Patient Care. New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 1965.
Murray, RB and Zentner JP., Nursing Concepts for Health Promotion, Second Edtion, Prentice-Hall, Inc, Englewood Cliffs, N.J, 1979.

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