What is cultural competency, and why is it crucial to healthcare?



What is cultural competency, and how does it fit in with healthcare? A recent survey among physicians in the United States shows that cultural competency is a key issue both for healthcare practitioners and their patients, so what are the obstacles to efficient cross-cultural communication in a healthcare setting? Since the time of the Ancient Greeks, medical professionals have sworn the Hippocratic Oath, through which they commit to providing their patients with the best care possible. This includes patients of all different ethnic groups, religions, sexual orientations, and cultures.

But not all people feel the medical community understands their unique needs. For example, a study from Stanford University found that Black men were more likely to talk about their health concerns with a Black doctor.

Another study found that Hispanic people in the United States delay going to the doctor because they do not understand the healthcare system.

And not all doctors may believe they are capable of serving patients of all backgrounds. Past research shows that doctors from minority backgrounds, as well as female doctors, are more likely to serveTrusted Source minority, financially precarious, and Medicaid-eligible populations.

Furthermore, a study from 2015 found that physicians and medical students felt underpreparedTrusted Source when seeing patients who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.

These are some of the reasons why cultural competency plays a large role in patient care.

A new survey conducted by Healthgrades — an online resource offering comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals — found that 31% of responding physicians agreed that their level of cultural competency affected their ability to provide the best possible care for their patients either somewhat or a lot.

Additionally, the survey found a generational difference when it comes to a doctor’s willingness to improve their cultural competency.

Younger doctors, with fewer years of practice experience, appeared more interested in additional cultural competency training when compared to older doctors.

What is cultural competency?

Cultural competency is the ability to understand and respect the beliefs, values, and histories of individuals of all cultural backgrounds.

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