When a Filipino gets sick he asks three questions which reveal the three sources of sickness from his point of view -
he first question is asked because Filipinos believe there are physical causes for illness. It could be something that he ate or drank, a change in the weather, taking a bath at the wrong time (during menstruation or fever), or germs. These sicknesses are treated by doctors but due to the cost of western medicine, folk medicine is usually resorted to. This includes use of herbs and chemicals and sometimes saying a powerful prayer (Henry, 2006).
If there is no apparent physical cause or if medical doctors are unable to cure a sickness, the second question is asked on the belief that if God or the spirit-world has been offended, then sickness could be sent as a punishment.
With this background, a health practitioner dealing with this particular cultural group has to be aware and sensitive enough so as to deliver a patient-centered and patient-approved service as what Leonard Berry, a professor in Mays Business School at Texas A&M proposes (2003). Professor Berry studied the healthcare industry and says that its future depends on a patient-centered approach. Berry explained -
Working at the high-end of expertise is a departure from what goes on now in the industry.. It means that specialist physicians should do less of what generalist physicians can do, generalist physicians should do less of what non-physician providers - such as nurses and physician's assistants - can do, and non physician providers should do less of what clinical staff can do. What's more, each caregiver should do less of what appropriately instructed patients and families can do for themselves".
This patient-centered approach complements the concept of cultural competence among health practitioners which requires awareness and sensitivity to patients' cultural differences. Through this approach, patients are educated about their conditions, encouraged to ask questions and collaboration, discuss how the condition affects the patient emotionally, and involve patients in treatment decisions. In this way, a better served client is assured therefore lifting the quality of health care delivery.
Henry, Rodney L. Filipino Spirit World. OMF Literature, 2006
Scott, William Henry J. Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society. Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2004
Texas A&M University (2003, October 9). Patient-centered Approach Just What The Doctor Ordered For