Cross-cultural aspects of functional gastrointestinal disorders
This chapter reviews the implications of approaching functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) from a cross-cultural perspective. It also reviews the epidemiology of FGIDs and outlines how cultural factors affect the complex interplay between patient, health provider and disorder. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) predominates in the FGID literature. IBS was less frequent in South-East Asian and Middle Eastern cohorts than in South Asian and South American cohorts. Cultural differences in health perceptions between patients and health-care providers may limit the efficacy of cross-cultural consultation. Health-seeking behaviours are influenced by cultural determinants. Family networks are defined differently between cultures: some may emphasize a small family of first-degree relatives, while others may include large groups spanning many generations Physiological differences between cultural groups are also important. Baseline exposures to gastrointestinal pathogens vary according to geographical region, potentially altering the symptomatology of FGIDs. The chapter summarizes the interaction between cultural factors and patient experience of FGIDs within a biopsychosocial context.