Objectives: To analyze the integration of social science concepts, especially those used by anthropology, in the care of users of health services.
Methodology: Analytical and interpretive.
Results: The utilization of other areas of knowledge in the health field has intensified during the last few years. The social sciences, in general, and anthropology in particular, have contributed in a decisive manner to the understanding of phenomena related to the process of health-illness, both individually and collectively.
The author analyzes a series of considerations to seek a better understanding about the question of users health care, with emphasis on making explicit the forms of interaction and communication between health services and users. For this task it is indispensable to understand the influence of culture in the manner that individuals perceive illness and establish relations with diverse health systems.
The author also suggests the necessity of locating the user in the center of the relationship within health services, to transcend the traditional doctor-patient relationship and to advance toward an effective relationship between subjects who are different. This process does not imply annulling the health professional but rather comprehending better the necessity of knowing and respecting the patient more deeply. Such an achievement would permit an adaptation of professional practice and not the inverse; that is, as until now the patient has had to adapt to professional decisions.
The massive migratory processes in the United States and Europe have demonstrated that the application of norms or guides for care is not always effective for populations with other cultural characteristics. Understanding the differences in concepts of health-illness is fundamental to obtain a favorable result of medical care.
Conclusions: The article concludes by demonstrating that the act of centering medical practice on the user and his or her culture brings benefits for patients and for professionals, in the sense of rescuing the humanization of care and the integral nature of health services.
Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico