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What is Culturally Responsive Care?

by Edward Leigh, Patient Communications Expert
April 06, 2017

Question: What does culturally responsive care mean?

Answer: Thank you for writing.

According to the Minnesota Public Health Association’s Immigrant Health Task Force, culturally responsive care, or cultural competence in health care, is defined as the ability of individuals and systems to respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, in a manner that affirms the worth and preserves the dignity of individuals, families, and communities.

In addition, the Task Force describes a culturally responsive healthcare professional by the following characteristics:

•    Has the knowledge to make an accurate health assessment, one which takes into consideration a patient’s background and culture.
•    Has the ability to convey that assessment to the patient, to recognize culture-based beliefs about health and to devise treatment plans which respect those beliefs.
•    Is willing to incorporate models of health and health care delivery from a variety of cultures into the biomedical framework.
•    To be culturally competent, a healthcare professional should acknowledge culture’s profound effect on health outcomes and should be willing to learn more about this powerful interaction.

For more information about cultural competencies in healthcare, please refer to this very helpful report from UCare, a non-profit health plan.

Thank you again for writing. I wish you all the best.

Edward Leigh, MA, focuses on helping patients and healthcare professionals effectively communicate with each other. Excellent communication skills dramatically enhance patient satisfaction and safety. He presents high-energy and informative programs for hospitals, healthcare associations, medical practices, government organizations and universities. He is also an in-demand consultant and coach. He has a master’s degree in health education.

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