Cultural Competency and Cardiovascular Disease


The guide to achieving cultural competency in healthcare 

What does cultural competency mean?

Cultural competence is a “set of behaviors, attitudes, and skills that allows for effective work in cross-cultural situations”. Culture is defined as an individual’s beliefs, values, thoughts, communication, race, and religion. Cultural competency requires individuals such as healthcare workers to value the culture of others, understanding diversity, and acquiring cultural knowledge to improve quality of care among patients of different cultures. Cultural competence is acquired by demonstrating appropriate behaviors that show integration of cultural knowledge

Cultural competence is important in improving the quality of care for diverse individuals. Cultural competence is a helpful skill in eliminating health disparities among minority populations . It is also helpful in eliminating structural bias within healthcare systems. Lack of cultural competence within healthcare systems is one of the major causes of high rates of chronic diseases and death in minority populations. An individual’s culture affects the way in which healthcare information is received and communicated between patients and providers. The way in which health care information is perceived, and translated can affect their overall health outcomes

Ways to Achieve Cultural Competency

1. Recognize different cultures and learning about them

2. Accept differences within cultures and understand that the values and beliefs of others may be different than your own

3. Do not believe that your own culture is superior than others

4. Understand that each individual is different and should be provided with care that meets their needs.

5. Improve cultural awareness, there are multiple ways of doing things.

6. Be willing to listen to the needs of a patient

7. Effectively communicate health information to diverse patients in a way in which they can understand.

8. Understand your own bias

9. Respect other cultures

10. Collect data on race and ethnicities

Doctor: “Good morning, my name is Doctor Jones, I will be treating you today” ( Doctor introduces himself without reaching out for a handshake. Muslim traditions prohibit handshaking with individuals of opposite sex unless they are family members)

Patient: “Goodmorning “

Doctor: “ I see that you came in for a physical exam, in order to begin your physical exam, I will need you to change into a hospital gown , is that okay with you?” (Muslim women dress modest and conservative and may not feel comfortable wearing a hospital gown, the physician asks the patient if she is comfortable)

Patient: “ Yes it is”

Doctor: “Please let me know when you are dressed and ready for me to enter” ( Muslim women value privacy, especially when their healthcare provider is of a different gender, in this scenario the physician values the patients privacy)

Patient: “ You can enter”

Doctor: “ This is Kristina, she is the nurse who will be assisting me today” ( The physician brings in a female healthcare provider to ensure the patient feels comfortable during her visit)

Patient: “ Hello Kristina”

Doctor:” During screening for breast cancer, we noticed a small tumor. You will need to come back for another visit next week to determine if it is a benign or malignant tumor. Do you understand what this means? (The physician effectively communicates health information and ensures patient comprehension)

Patient :” Yes I understand, thank you so much for your help. See you next week”.

photo taken from google images

How cultural competency affects cardiovascular disease

The rates of cardiovascular disease is disproportionate in minority populations. Evidence shows that cultural competency can reduce health disparities in minority populations, as well as unbiased care.Factors such as language barriers, communication, attitudes, and beliefs. A method for improving cultural competency for healthcare providers is cultural competency training. During training, healthcare providers are able to learn about patient diversity , preventing bias and eliminating stereotypes. When healthcare providers are culturally competent, they will be able to actively listen to their patients concerns. They will also be able to empathize with their patients when they are aware how culture affects health outcomes. 

Heart Health Resources

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