Although disease is universal, patients respond to their illnesses differently. A particular question asked of different patients is answered in a style that is governed by the patient's ethnic background, emotions, customs, age, medical history, social history, and family history. These factors determine the way in which a patient perceives and responds to a question. This section illustrates the importance of understanding a patient's background as an aid to better communication. The important influence of ethnic and cultural background on the patient response is discussed at length in Chapter 3, Caring for Patients in a Culturally Diverse Society.
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