A focus on culture: developing a systematic approach to the cultural contexts of health in the WHO European Region (2016)

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Cultural Contexts of Health and Well-being, No. 2
2016, viii + 35 pages
ISBN 978 92 890 5162 0

In the past 20 years, a range of conceptual frameworks was developed to examine how social and economic determinants intersect with health and well-being. Often, these frameworks refer to the importance of cultural contexts in a positive or negative way, but do not acknowledge the concrete ways in which value systems, traditions and beliefs affect health and well-being or the frequently positive, protective effects that culture can have in the face of certain health challenges. 

In January 2015, the WHO Regional Office for Europe convened the first meeting of the expert group on the cultural contexts of health, thereby starting a project to build a platform for research from the health-related humanities and social sciences to support the implementation of the European policy framework, Health 2020. The Regional Office held the second meeting of the expert group in April 2016 to further explore how research from the humanities and social sciences can inform policy-making and where it can shed light on the subjective human experience of health. This report outlines the expert group’s recommendations on the implementation of the project.