Healthcare as a Public Space: Social Integration and Social Diversity in the Context of Access to Healthcare in Europe
Healthcare, understood as a medical space, is an excellent example of a public space that models the processes of social integration and social equity. In a general sense, healthcare can connect diverse groups of a society under the common idea of health and illness. However, depending on its organization, it can also influence societal segregation of minority groups. Although the issues of minorities’ equality are central to European Institutions, European guidelines are mostly still not observed in the national legal regulations and healthcare practice.
Within the scope of the project, the research will focus on the concept of diversity that includes aspects of ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation both in the general social context of healthcare viewed as a public space, as well as in the specific context of medical institutions conceptualized as public locations. The aim of this project is to generate systematic and in-depth knowledge about how and to what degree the European norms and guidelines concerning diversity are implemented in national legal regulations in Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, and Poland and how they are realized in clinical practice in these countries. The project will study the ethical, cultural, and normative aspects of integration and exclusion within the healthcare sector.
During the project, analyzed will be guidelines and legal regulations of the European Institutions and their implementation in national laws. Further, the project will evaluate statutes, internal documents, and accreditation charters of hospitals as well as guiding principles and directives on the topic issued by hospital ethics committees. Moreover, during the project, in-depth interviews will be conducted with healthcare managers, professionals, and patients. The interviews will contribute crucial information on ethical issues raised by the phenomenon of social diversity in healthcare and how these questions are resolved in everyday practice.
The results of the project will provide knowledge on the state and degree of the implementation of European guidelines in national legal systems and in healthcare everyday praxis. The results of the project will allow for a comprehensive comparison between Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, and Poland regarding the issues of social diversity and access to healthcare. Additionally, the results will provide a ground for2 possible recommendations intended to address the problems of disparities in healthcare, which are associated with diversity. Therefore, the results of the research will be highly relevant to other areas beyond provision of healthcare, such as: social perception of diversity, policy development, legislation, and economy. Better understanding of the concept of diversity in healthcare can bring impulses toward policy changes in this and other areas of the distribution of public goods; it can lead to reforms in the law systems aimed at improvement of access to public services; it will also allow a more sophisticated social perception of the phenomenon of diversity; and last but not least, it can improve medical procedures and therefore decrease the costs of healthcare in general. Through concentration on ethical questions and humanist perspective, the results of the project can enhance quality of life and health of the minority groups in the countries under investigation and in the European context. The results of the project will also provide healthcare professionals with critical knowledge about how to pursue and integrate the issue of social diversity into their medical practice.