Cultural and Social Diversity in Healthcare
Cultural Competence in Nursing
The increasing multiplicity of people and nations results in several opportunities and challenges for health care providers, health care systems and policy makers in fashioning and delivering culturally competent health services. Cultural competence encompasses the ability of health care providers and organizations to efficiently provide health care services that satisfy the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of patients (Betancourt, Green, & Carrillo, 2002). Cultural values entail the functions and human interactions among families and social groups (Spector, 2000). A culturally competent health care system can enhance health outcomes and quality of care as well as helping in the abolition of racial and ethnic health disparities. Some of the strategies that help the health care system in attaining these goals include delivering appropriate training on cultural competence and cross-cultural elements to health professionals and establishing guidelines that decrease administrative and linguistic barriers to patient care. This paper provides an analysis on the relevance and relationship between cultural and social diversity for an individual health care provider. I will analyze the relevance and relationship between my profession in nursing, the healthcare institution and the healthcare consumer. I will also examine how cultural competency in my nursing career in healthcare provision at an institutional level helps in enhancing health outcomes.
All cultures across the globe have different systems of health beliefs that are applied in explaining the causes of an illness, the method that can be used to cure or treat it, and the specific people to be involved in the process (Anderson et al, 2003). The magnitude to which patients take in patient education from nurses in terms of cultural background is relevant to them hence having a profound effect on their response to information provided by healthcare practitioners and their willingness to use it (Collins, 2006). Among the Western industrialized nations, for instance, the United States, an ailment or disease is perceived to be as a result of a natural scientific phenomena and is advocated through medical treatments that fight the microorganisms or use sophisticated technology to detect and treat the disease. On the other hand, other societies believe that diseases and illnesses are caused by supernatural occurrences and uphold elements, such as prayer or other spiritual interventions that counter the supposed disrepute of powerful forces. Therefore, as a nurse, understanding cultural and social issues plays a major role in the profession and patient compliance.
For instance, Asians/Pacific Islanders comprise the majority ethnic group in the United States. There are numerous important cultural beliefs among Asians and Pacific Islanders that nurses need to be aware of in their healthcare provision. In such societies, the extended family has a weighty impact, and the eldest male in the family is considered the final decision maker and spokesperson (McLaughlin, & Braun, 1998). Furthermore, the interests and integrity of the family is more significant than those of discrete family members. The elderly family members are respected and their authority is often unquestioned. Moreover, among the Asian cultures, upholding harmony is an imperative value; therefore, there is a sturdy focus on evading conflict and direct conflict. As a result of the respect for authority, a disagreement with the commendations of health care professionals is circumvented. Nevertheless, the lack of a disparity does not imply that the patients and family agree with or will follow treatment references.
Amongst Chinese patients, since the behavior of an individual replicates on the family, mental illness or any comportment that designates the lack of self-control results in shame and guilt (McLaughlin & Braun, 1998). Consequently, Chinese patients in most cases may be hesitant to deliberate on the symptoms of a mental illness or depression.
As demonstrated in the above case, it is apparent that cultural and social diversity among different groups brings its own standpoints and values to the health care system. In addition, many health care beliefs and health practices vary as compared to those of the traditional American health care culture that healthcare professionals like nurses need to beware of. Regrettably, the anticipation of many health care professionals in the nursing and other healthcare systems has been that patients will follow conventional values. Such expectations have frequently resulted in barriers in health care that have been compounded by other factors, for instance, differences in language and education between patients and providers from different backgrounds, which has affected service delivery hence impacting the healthcare professionals, patients and healthcare facilities.
Furthermore, cultural diversity and differences impact the patients ‘attitudes about medical care in addition to their ability to recognize, manage, and cope with the progression of an illness, the implication of a diagnosis, and the outcome of medical treatment (Health Research & Educational Trust, 2011). It is also apparent that cultural diversity and differences among people enable patients and their families to incorporate specific cultural ideas and values associated with the concepts of health and illness, reporting of signs, prospects for how health care will be provided, and beliefs regarding prescription and treatments. Besides culture diversity, specific values among different cultures influence the patients’ roles and anticipations, magnitude of information about a disease and the desired treatment. To a larger extend, the process also involves the manner in which death and dying will be managed, mourning patterns, gender and family roles, and the decision making processes. Therefore, for a healthcare practitioner in the nursing profession, information and relationship between culture and social diversity among patients in a healthcare facility is relevant for effective delivery of healthcare among patients from different cultural diversities. It ensures effective service delivery that has a positive impact on both the patients and healthcare facility as well as the satisfaction of healthcare delivery.
Significance of Cultural Competency
Cultural competence in health care entails the ability to provide care to patients with unlike values, beliefs and behaviors, involving tailoring health care delivery to meet patients’ social, cultural and linguistic needs (Seeleman, Suurmond & Stronks, 2009). Cultural competency is a significant element in nurses’ new care delivery models, for instance, patient-centered medical homes and accountable care organizations. It also entails the aptitude to engage and teach patients about their health status. Despite the fact that undertaking this initiative is challenging for diverse patient populations, the problem can be more compounded as a result of language barriers, health literacy gap, and cultural alterations in communication styles. It is imperious that healthcare facilities and health care systems understand not only the diversity of patients and communities they provide services but also the benefits of becoming a culturally competent healthcare professional that translates to an efficient healthcare organization (Jeffreys, 2008). Therefore, hospitals and care systems must prepare their nurses and staff to interrelate with patients of diverse backgrounds to enhance patient engagement and training and assist in eradication of racial and ethnic differences in care.
As a way of enhancing understanding among diverse cultures, nurses in hospitals and care systems need to seek advice from individuals and groups in the communities they provide healthcare services. Such populations can assist them in developing educational resources, enhancing patients’ access to services and improving health care literacy in healthcare institutions, hence, making the work of nurses effective. For instance, in 2013, the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, delivered improved National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards in health and health care. This entailed an outline with guidance and policies to assist in implementing them. Such an initial apprise to the values since their preliminary issue in 2000 develops upon the models of culture to mirror fresh advances and trends and emphasizes on leadership and governance as drivers of culturally competent health care and health care equity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013).
Cultural competence in a healthcare institutions or care system results in several benefits for a healthcare organization, patients and community. Healthcare organizations that are culturally competent realize improved health outcomes, increased veneration and reciprocated understanding from patients, and enhanced participation from the local community. Furthermore, healthcare facilities and organizations that have incorporated cultural competency may incur lower costs as well as less care differences (Wilson & Mutha, 2010).
Moreover, cultural competency entails knowledge that involves being conscious of the culture base of those in service area as a nurse, for instance, the traditions and values shared by the same group. Having full knowledge and information of the patients’ culture, ethnicity and other genetic components shared by people of the same ancestry are significant in healthcare. For instance, the epidemiology, display of disease, and impacts of prescriptions on diverse ethnic groups. This is represented in an area referred to as ethno pharmacology, which reconnoiters how dissimilar medications impact people from several ethnic groups (Murphy, 2011). This is a crucial element in health care nursing provision that enhances a positive healthcare outcome.
In addition, cultural competency in healthcare is significant in addressing the element of attitudes among patients in healthcare facilities constructed on cultural holdings. Being cognizant of how culture impacts an individual’s conduct and thinking enables a nurse to plan the best care for patients. Consciousness of the guidelines of relations in a particular cultural group, for instance, communication configurations and customs, division of functions in the family entity, and devoutness, is significant in assisting a nurse to understand the attitudes of patients. Furthermore, recognizing personal attitudes and affinities to stereotype in line with different cultural groups is important in the provision of care and concern, which results in an effective healthcare outcome.
In conclusion, a culturally safe healthcare environment will be apparent. Additionally, healthcare facilities and care systems will be in a position to prepare their healthcare professionals and other staff to interact with patients of assorted backgrounds to enhance patient engagement and education. The process will result in the eradication of cultural and ethnic disparities in care. Moreover, a culturally safe healthcare environment will provide effective care to patients with different values, philosophies and conducts. Healthcare facilities and care systems, as part of their mission, will also be able to appreciate and realize the benefits of cultural competence and the varied patients and communities to deliver care services to. A cultural safe healthcare environment will also acknowledge and incorporate the steps entailed in becoming culturally competent, which commence with understanding the contextual of the community and patient population as well as the impact of cultural effects on care delivery. The effective skills required by healthcare professionals will also be given priorities as well as effectual educational programs and training for hospital staff, for instance, cultural assessment. A culturally competent health care organization’s environment will have better-quality patient outcomes, improved respect and common understanding from patients and enhanced participation from the local community.
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