Cultural Competency and COVID-19 [Infographic]

By Alexander Green, MD, MPH on 4/13/20 10:51 AM

Cross-cultural communication during a health crisis


The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable among us. This includes the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. It also includes communities of color, immigrant communities, low-income workers, and the prison population.

 

As more data emerges that show how social inequities are fueling the pandemic in the United States, it is clear that cultural competency and bias awareness in healthcare is more important than ever.

The healthcare system in many states is overwhelmed by cases of COVID-19 and struggling to secure the resources it needs to safely and effectively treat patients. It may seem like too much to ask for physicians and caregivers to be mindful of cross-cultural communication issues and unconscious bias in such hectic conditions.

 

But this is precisely the time when skills in cultural competency are most needed. The Three Tenets of Cross-Cultural Communication presented below are a helpful touchstone for all of us to keep in mind as we move forward in our professional interactions—whether they be in the most critical care settings or in other roles no doubt touched by our current reality. They may seem like simple recommendations, but there are concrete ways clinicians can actively exhibit them for maximum effect. They are empathy, curiosity, and respect.

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Religion & Spirituality in Medical Care [Infographic]

By Alexander Green, MD, MPH on 3/25/19 10:00 AM

Expanding the social history

Religion and spirituality are key cross-cultural issues that can impact the way patients react to disease and illness. They also affect the way patients approach medical management. Learn how healthcare providers can expand social history questioning to include religious and spiritual considerations. View and share the infographic.

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Cultural Awareness in Healthcare: A Checklist

By Alexander Green, MD, MPH on 2/14/19 11:33 AM


Managing cultural differences in healthcare

Culture is a complex concept. It includes people’s beliefs, values, behaviors, and ways of understanding their world. In medicine, managing cultural differences—including customs—is essential to providing high-quality health care. One challenge is that patients may not realize they have customs that could jeopardize their wellness. Culture is largely invisible to people who share it. But to outsiders, the customs and ways of life of different cultures are often obvious—and sometimes strange. Here's an example from my own experience:

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Cultural Competency and Chronic Disease

By Georgia Barnes on 11/7/18 9:28 AM

Manage Chronic Disease with the EFST Model for Cultural Competence

How can clinicians help ease the stress of chronic disease? Recent healthcare news stories published in The New York Times draw attention to the incredible burden of serious illness and chronic disease on critically sick patients. Not only are they physically uncomfortable and often fighting for their lives—they are also baffled by a confusing healthcare system and swamped by medical bills. Now imagine adding a language barrier to the mix! The challenges of serious illness are compounded when there are cross-cultural issues at play. Quality Interactions' EFST Model is designed to help clinicians uncover and address these issues and provide culturally-sensitive care to all patients with chronic disease.

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Border Walls: Cultural Competency and the Hispanic/Latino Population

By Alexander Green, MD, MPH on 10/4/18 4:22 PM




In the 1990s, before I started my second year of medical school at University of California, San Diego (just 30 minutes north of the Mexican border) I made a decision that would change my life. The second-year curriculum allowed for a number of elective courses. We were supposed to select from a catalogue of options—radiology, advanced anatomy, medical ethics, and many others. Most students chose two per semester. I chose one that spanned the entire year: Medical Spanish.

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Real Talk: Reimagining the Role of Medical Interpreters

By Alexander Green, MD, MPH on 7/3/18 9:45 AM

This content was originally presented as part of our live learning event, "Expanding the Role of Interpreters in a Value-Based System," by Dr. Alexander Green. View the recorded event here.

As a primary care physician, I take care of a large Spanish-speaking population, among other culturally and socioeconomically diverse patients. I’m fluent in medical Spanish and communicate directly with my Spanish-speaking patients. But regardless of whether I’m speaking Spanish or working with a medical interpreter, visits with limited English proficiency (LEP) patients always leave me with a worried feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’m keenly aware that most healthcare takes place outside of the doctor’s office, and this is where LEP patients fall through the cracks. I wonder, “Did Mrs. Ramirez really understand how to prep for her colonoscopy next week?” or “Was Mr. Luan actually convinced that he needs to take the medication I prescribed for his diabetes?”

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Best Practices for Working with Medical Interpreters

By Megan Bedford on 6/14/18 9:44 AM

Address the patient, speak clearly, avoid jargon, and check for comprehension

If you’re a healthcare provider who works with some of the 25 million limited English proficient (LEP) patients in the U.S., you know how important interpretation is to successful patient outcomes. Poor communication increases the chance of medical errors with any patient, and LEP individuals are especially vulnerable in this regard.

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How to Approach Medical Decision-Making Across Cultures

By Megan Bedford on 4/24/18 1:16 PM

How should important medical decisions be made?

If you've grown up in the U.S., you're probably familiar with the concept of a patient's "right to know." American culture holds that patients are entitled to be fully informed in their own medical care, including the decision-making process. In some cultures, however, autonomy in decision-making is not the norm. For many people, it is essential to involve (or even defer to) others, particularly family members, in important health decisions. In such families, it's common to look to an authority figure (determined by gender, position in the family, or level of acculturation) as the primary decision-maker within the group. In some cases, these families may wish to exclude the patient from decisions in order to avoid what is perceived as undue stress. This can cause friction between health providers, patients, and their relatives.

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News Roundup Week of February 16, 2018

By Megan Bedford on 2/16/18 10:53 AM

Medical Residents Lack Comprehensive Training in Cultural Competency

A report from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) presents data from medical residency and fellowship programs, which shows that clinical learning environments (CLEs) vary widely in their application of strategies to address healthcare disparities. Among other findings, the data demonstrate a lack of comprehensive training in cultural competency.

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What Will It Take to End Perceived Discrimination in Healthcare?

By Megan Bedford on 1/16/18 11:38 AM


Perceived discrimination, based on race, gender, and other factors, causes patients to distrust the healthcare system and medical practitioners. They are then less likely to seek treatment, and less likely to follow through on medical advice. In response to a recent study on this topic, Quality Interactions co-founder Dr. Joseph Betancourt published an editorial in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM).The study, by Nguyen et al., found that rates of perceived discrimination in healthcare declined among black patients between 2008 and 2014. While this could be promising news, Dr. Betancourt argues that it is not time to celebrate yet.

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