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The New Zealand Medical Journal

 Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 21-January-2011, Vol 124 No 1328

[full text] [PDF]

Understanding the role of culture in pain: Māori practitioner perspectives relating to the experience of pain
Jane E Magnusson, Joyce A Fennell

Abstract


Aims
As there is growing interest in the role of cultural diversity within healthcare settings it is important to determine how culture can influence such things as pain. A personís culture can impact not only how they perceive and experience pain but also how they interact with healthcare professionals and adhere to advice provided. To better assess and treat pain in different cultures the perspectives and experiences of that culture must be taken into consideration and therefore the present study was undertaken to better understand Māori perspectives of pain.

Methods
Māori healthcare providers and kaumātua (tribal leaders/elders) were interviewed in order to gain insight into how pain was perceived and expressed by Māori with whom they had health-related interactions.

Results
The interviews reflected themes consistent within the greater body of literature in that as with many cultures, Māori perceive pain as a multidimensional experience impacting them physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually.

Conclusions
While our findings indicate that there is a commonality between cultures with regard to the experience of pain, it is valuable to understand a cultureís perceptions and experiences regarding pain before assessing and treating it as indicated in the findings from this study wherein cultural factors such as the role of the whānau (family) and the importance of the development of relationships with healthcare providers were points of emphasis in terms of ways to enhance Māori health.

     
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