A Curiously French Complaint

Kirby, E. (2008). “ A Curiously French Complaint,” BBC News.  Retrieved on 2008/12/13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7779126.stm

Summary: This article focuses on the cultural differences between the French and British populations in regards to their medical care. Each culture has their own script of understanding, which people rely to set their expectations during a medical crisis. The author Emma experienced a cultural ‘shock’ during her first encounter with a French doctor due to her vastly different set of expectations.

She visits a doctor in France due to the severity of a sore throat, where she is “diagnosed with a severe lung infection, mild asthma and had in my hand a prescription for six different types of medicine, an appointment at the local hospital’s radiology department and an emergency referral to a specialist in pulmonary disease (article).” Upon her return to Britain a few days later, she visits her family physician, who within a few minutes diagnoses her with only a ‘common cold.’ Her article then explains how the French expect a much more sever diagnosis to support their physical suffering. France is also the leading country of consumers who take prescription medications. While in England, there’s a more ‘keep a stiff upper lip’ mentality when it comes to medical treatment.

She explains the difference in medical diagnoses through the condition the French use all the time that is to have ‘heavy legs.’ While no other country really knows what this is, the French consume a very large percentage of the creams used to remedy ‘heavy legs.’ Most of the article she is claiming that the UK has a very American system, where patients don’t expect to be given prescription medications after a doctor’s visit. The one time she doesn’t listen to a French doctor, while she is on a ski vacation, she actually ends up in the hospital. Her article basically claims that if a French person visited a doctor in England they would be very unhappy with his/her doctor- due to the simplicity of their diagnosis.

USER GROUPS: In my opinion I felt the main message and awareness Emma is trying to get across in this article is the use of prescription medication. How it is used far too frequently in France and that they need to adapt a less medical based system and rely more on building up ones immunity first instead of needed prescription drugs. Her three examples of French versus British systems of treatment are so different from one another that she herself becomes less confident in French doctors, which actually causes her to end up in the hospital. I found the article to be extremely biased, since she never went to more then one doctor in France at the time of her cold to compare the outcome. She picked one doctor and then made a general assumption about French doctors, when in fact she does go again to a French doctor during her ski vacation he is accurate in his diagnosis, she just doesn’t listen.

INTERFACE: As far as Interface design in this article, one must look at the difference in communication. Each country, UK and France, have entirely different understanding of medication, be it sever or very non-chalant attitude. Over all, especially in regards to the `heavy legs` creams and products one could say that in France the acceptance and use of prescription medications is highly normal and frequently used. While in England this problem, is nonexistent. So in terms of prescription medication it does well because doctors in France communicate the need and the patient is more then willing to take it then to leave empty-handed.

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