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Intercultural healthcare

Name of the subject:  Intercultural Healthcare Integrated Course

Credit value: 2

This is an integrated course. It is open to students from the English, German and Hungarian programmes. As the course is held in English C1 level English knowledge is required to join.

Location:Nagyvárad tér, Semminar room 6

Time: Monday, 16:25-17:55

Course organiser: Bence Döbrössy



Objectives of the subject, its place in the medical curriculum:  


The primary aim of the course is to help students develop intercultural competencies needed not only in their future role as medical doctors working with colleagues and patients from other cultures but in the present as well as students in the multicultural environment of Semmelweis University.

To facilitate this aim, the course is integrated, welcoming students from the English, German and Hungarian programmes as well.

Besides the knowledge base required to function well in multicultural environments, the course also aims to sensitise students with regards to the values of cultural pluralism.

The emphasis on analysing real cases involving cultural diversity in healthcare settings aims to provide a practical, problem based component to the course.

Religion is an integral element of culture and the course allocates three classes to help students understand values, norms, beliefs and practices of world religions relevant to health and healthcare.

The course also aims to introduce students to the factors that need to be considered in intercultural decision making in healthcare settings


Successful completion of the subject results in the acquisition of the following competencies:

  • Enhancing students’ understanding of how culture shapes the health and illness behaviour of their patients to be.
  • Enabling students to function better in a multicultural environment.
  • Sensitising students to accept beliefs different from their own.


All lessons are seminars

  1. 6, September Introduction to intercultural healthcare- basic concepts (Döbrössy Bence)
  2. 13, September Norms, culture and deviance ( Döbrössy Bence)
  3. 20, September Gender and culture (Dr. Győrffy Zsuzsa+ Döbrössy Bence)
  4. 27, September Cultural dimensions- comparing cultures (Döbrössy Bence)
  5. 4, October Cultural diversity in health: The cultural context of illness behaviour (Döbrössy Bence)
  6. 11, October Religion, culture and health I- the effect of religion on health: studies and pathways (Döbrössy Bence)
  7. 18, October Religion, culture and health II –Hinduism, Buddhism (Döbrössy Bence)
  8. 25, October Religion, culture and health III- Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Dr. Péter Orsolya- Döbrössy Bence)
  9. 1, November– No school, national holiday
  10. 8, November The Roma in Hungary (Dr. Csépe Péter+ Döbrössy Bence)
  11. 15, November Intercultural decision making in a healthcare setting-legal issues (Dr. Péter Orsolya)
  12. 22, November Decision making in a healthcare setting Case analysis (Döbrössy Bence)
  13. 29, November Round table discussion with doctors who have experience in intercultural healthcare (Döbrössy Bence)
  14. 6, December Summary (Döbrössy Bence)


Special study work required to successfully complete the course:

Short tasks will be set for students on Moodle every week. 75% of the tasks must be completed.


Requirements for participation in classes and the possibility to make up for absences:

75% of seminars must be attended. One practical absence can be made up by undertaking an extra task set by the teacher

Requirements for signature:

Completion of 75% of the tasks and 75% practical attendance is required for getting a signature as well as completion of the final essay


Requirements of the examination:


3000 word original essay using academic sources on one of the topics below:

  1. What are Hofstede’s cultural dimensions? Use examples from cultures you know. How does it relate to health and healthcare?
  2. What is cultural pluralism? Give examples relevant to health and healthcare.
  3. What are the different theories of deviance? what is the one you like best? How does it relate to health and healthcare?
  4. What are the intercultural aspects of gender? How does it relate to health and healthcare?
  5. How does culture influence illness behaviour?
  6. What are some factors we must pay attention to in intercultural communication in healthcare?
  7. How do you provide culturally sensitive healthcare?
  8. Describe Roma culture. How does it relate to health and healthcare?
  9. What are the mechanisms through which religion may affect health?
  10. What is the cultural relevance of pain?
  11. Describe the most important health related beliefs and practices of two world religions we have looked at.

Method and type of evaluation:

(Method of calculating the final mark based on the theoretical and practical examination. How the mid-term test results are taken into account in the final mark.)

100% final essay


Grades :

0-50 points – 1

51- 60 points -2

61-74 points -3

75-84 points -4

85 points and over 5


Printed, electronic and online notes, textbooks, guides and literature (URL address for online material) to aid the acquisition of the material:


Healthy Diversity: A Manual of Critical Incidents, 2015- freely downloadable from:

Health Care and religious Beliefs, Alberta Health services, 2015

‘A melting pot of cultures’ -challenges in social adaptation and interactions amongst international medical students. Byrne E, Brugha R, McGarvey A. BMC Med Educ. 2019 Mar 18;19(1):86.

“Pathways from religion to health: Mediation by psychosocial and lifestyle mechanisms. Morton, Kelly R., Jerry W. Lee, and Leslie R. Martin. ” Psychology of religion and spirituality 9.1 (2017): 106.

Gender and Health in Graham Scrambler (ed) Sociology as Applied to Health and Medicine, Palgrave Macmillan  2018

Health and Illness Behaviour in Graham Scrambler (ed) Sociology as Applied to Health and Medicine, Palgrave Macmillan  2018

“The crossroads of culture and health among the Roma (Gypsies).” Vivian, Carrie, and Lauren Dundes.  Journal of nursing scholarship 36.1 (2004): 86-91.

Relevant articles will be made available to students on Moodle.

Talking ppts and handouts are provided on Moodle for each class