As modern medicine continually expands, with perspectives of science changing, cross-cultural medicine plays a critical role in a growing ethnically-diverse population. The dissonance between medical efforts and those whose religious or cultural beliefs go against such care finds an ethical battle between professional responsibility, the semantics of medical terminology, and the religion of medicine. Discussing the responsibility education and healthcare have in preparing their professionals to handle cases of ethical and cultural disagreement, life-saving efforts in such a field of study as cross-cultural medicine should aspire to avoid collateral damage–physical or spiritual death/damnation. The element of offering complete information of treatments and tied consequences, from both parties, is crucial to progression through such discourse–and is increasingly key in the included revisions of the most recent versions of the Hippocratic Oath: to eliminate personal biases, combat disinformation, and be an ally to underserved groups. Researchers continue to explore the possible placebo effects, from a secular perspective, that is beneficial in cases where cross-cultural treatment may be possible. To complicate the issues involved, the discussion of modus tollens in terms of dual treatment creates an element of “winner takes all”, rather than compromise. Additionally, paternalism affects the issue of understanding to what point one’s choices can be allowed to dictate the outcomes of another’s life–spiritual or physical–and to what point dangers are intrinsically so, or subject to criticism by normativism.


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Muller, Jessica H., PhD, and Brian Desmond, MD. “Cross-cultural Medicine: A Decade Later.” The Western Journal of Medicine. September 1992, https://ethnomed.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/westjmed00085-0113.pdf

Reiss, Julian, and Rachel A. Ankeny. “Philosophy of Medicine.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 6 June 2016, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/medicine/#ReduHoliMedi

Complete research paper to be released.

A.R. Hansen

Author of Battle of the Mind