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A large number of different cultures in Aotearoa make up the diverse society that we all enjoy. Culture includes not only the many ethnic groups within our population, but also other groupings that patients may identify with such as religious groups, disability culture, and gay culture.

Cross cultural interactions in the health sector are therefore common and all of us need to be competent in dealing with people whose cultures differ from our own.

It is interesting to take a look at how culture contributes to certain health behaviours, as well as understand how our own cultural values influence the interactions we have.

To be able to understand and work with people from all cultures, it is important to first recognize how our own culture influences us. This provides us with a reference point, a basis from which to be able to recognise and appreciate differences between our own and other cultures.

When I think about culture I think about beliefs, and values, and behaviours, and customs and so on.

It is also true that these preferences are not only affected by our culture but also by our experiences, education, economic pressures, peer behaviour and many other things, and they can change over time. This is why it is so important to ask people about their preferences.

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