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Tools - Departments & Programs, UW Medical Foundation, Patient Resources, Social Work Services Quick Guide, Social Work Manual, Cultural Competence and Congruence


Questions that elicit a patient’s explanatory model 

  1. What do you call the problem?
  2. What do you think has caused the problem?
  3. Why do you think it started when it did?
  4. What do you think the sickness does? How does it work?
  5. How severe is the sickness? Will it have a short or long course?
  6. What kind of treatment do you think the patient should receive? What are the important results you hope she/he receives from this treatment?
  7. What are the chief problems the sickness has caused?
  8. What do you fear most about the sickness?

Suggestions for Health Care Providers 

From The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman (1997, pp 260-261)

Developed by Arthur Kleinman, psychiatrist and medical anthropologist at Harvard Medical School.

The original version of these questions appeared in Kleinman et al., “Culture, Illness, and Care: Clinical Lessons from Anthropologic and Cross-Cultural Research”