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Ethnicity and Social Work Practice$
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Carole B. Cox and Paul H. Ephross

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195099317

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195099317.001.0001

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Ethnicity and Health

Ethnicity and Health

(p.120) 7 Ethnicity and Health
Ethnicity and Social Work Practice

Carole B. Cox

Paul H. Ephross

Oxford University Press

Health and health care are complex issues that are further complicated by ethnicity that can strongly influence health status, behaviors, attitudes, and service utilization. Culture and values can be influential in the perception of illness and symptoms, in the decision making process of how to act on symptoms, and the choice of treatments. Understanding cultural definitions of illness and the factors that impact the use of medical care is a prerequisite for designing effective and responsive health care systems. Mental health, just as physical health, is also perceived through an ethnic lens with values, expectations, and traditional attitudes influencing how symptoms are perceived and acted upon. Concomitantly, social-economic status can be an equally significant factor on health status and behaviors, and must not be ignored by practitioners. Knowledge, understanding, and a clear ethnic lens enhances the effectiveness of social workers in health care settings.

Keywords:   health care, health status, service utilization, illness, symptoms

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