Cultural competence is an essential part of the professionalism of healthcare workers. The world constantly faces new challenges as the society in the majority of countries becomes more multinational because of globalization. In this case, nurses and doctors have to pay special attention to the origins of the patient in order to act according to his or her traditions, values, and beliefs (Seymour, 2018). However, despite the high level of development of the world, some cultural stereotypes still affect the health of people in negative way. To prevent such types of situations, healthcare workers should be tolerant and open-minded and, at the same time, convincing and determined. The purpose of this paper is to provide a description of cultural competence and its components in the medical sphere and analyze the impact of beliefs and customs on the process of treatment.
Cultural Competence and Health Outcomes
The influence of cultural competence on the comfort of patients cannot be underestimated. The researchers claim that the awareness of nurses about specific traditions and beliefs makes the therapy more convenient and pleasant for a person (Henderson et al., 2018). They also point out that the possible synonym for this term may be “moral reasoning.” By this expression, they consider that not only the knowledge or the education of the healthcare worker should be taken into account but also his or her motivation and desire to help and to find the solution. The authors of the academic work maintain that a significant part of cultural competence depends on the caregiver’s personal character traits (Henderson et al., 2018). From their point of view, openness and desire to help are essential for being a professional specialist (Henderson et al., 2018). Moral reasoning is about establishing a trusting relationship with the patient and searching for the solution of the situation together with respect to the beliefs and values of the person. The specified concern gains particular weight when meeting the needs of a pediatric patient. Since establishing a rapport with a child will require a more substantial amount of time, it is imperative to ensure that there is a cross-cultural connection between a physician and a patient. As a result, the process of patient education will continue uninhibited. Moreover, it is expected that, with the focus on a cultural perspective, a child will be eager to train health-related issues and health management strategies independently.
The cultural competence of healthcare workers has a direct impact on the quality of life of a patient. For example, according to the scientific research of Alizadeh and Chavan (2016), it lowers the mortality among people who need care and therapy. What is more, it is beneficial for increasing the level of trust between the nurse and the patient (Alizadeh & Chavan, 2016). In general, it improves the self-esteem and the well-being of the ill person. It is also important to mention that patients who communicate with competent and open-minded medical staff are more loyal and satisfied with the healthcare system and are more likely to seek professional help in the nearest future (Alizadeh & Chavan, 2016). Nevertheless, the authors of the article draw attention of the readers that these concepts and conclusions were not empirically tested; that is why the results might be inaccurate (Alizadeh & Chavan, 2016). However, the overall review illustrates the significance of cultural competence in the process of treatment and its value for the well-being of patients.
In this context, cultural sensitivity also allows addressing the needs of vulnerable and marginalized groups, as well as health needs of minorities. For example, the issue of women’s health for patients in impoverished areas and disadvantaged communities will need to be tackled separately when applying the concepts of cultural relevance and cultural sensitivity. Namely, the problems of period poverty and the lack of access to women’s health resources need to be addressed as some of the main concerns (Oberman, 2018). Applying cultural sensitivity to establish the dialogue with the target audience, a nurse will be able to identify strategies for educating target patients and offering them available resources.
Finally, cultural competence should be applied when catering to the needs of vulnerable groups. These may include aging people, who require unique, patient-specific approaches for education and management of their health needs. Therefore, the adoption of cultural competence in case of addressing an issue such as the threat of falls in the elderly will demand a nuanced approach toward personal interactions with the patient to teach them to avoid obstacles that may lead to a fall. By incorporating the principles of cultural competence, awareness, and sensitivity into the health management practice, one will be able to address vulnerable groups’ needs properly.
Differences between Cultural Awareness, Cultural Sensitivity, and Cultural Competence
The difference between cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, and cultural competence is a topic under discussion among professionals in the medical sphere. Some scientists claim that these terms may be treated as synonyms (Henderson et al., 2018). Others provide a specific system where cultural competence is a general notion for several types of interaction with a patient (Alizadeh & Chavan, 2016). In this case, cultural awareness is considered to be investigated on a personal level and is supposed to be a rating system of healthcare workers’ tolerance towards other cultures. The way of treating a person according to his or her beliefs is also a part of the evaluation of cultural awareness. Moreover, knowledge about other traditions is a crucial issue in the framework of cultural awareness (Alizadeh & Chavan, 2016). Cultural sensitivity is another segment of cultural competence; it shows the ability to have effective communication with people of diverse cultural views without any prejudice or stereotypes (Alizadeh & Chavan, 2016). What is more, it also requires the objective collection of important data about the patients without paying attention to the differences of nationalities, religion, or race.
Correlation between Region and Culture
The historical aspects of development of specific regions play an essential role in the cultural formation. Appalachia in eastern North America is famous for its mineral sources and crucial impact on the petroleum industry of the USA. It is possible to assume that the mining operations influenced in a negative way the health and the quality of life of the local residents. Dangerous professions and unfavorable ecological situation have worsened public health. These historical events are the cause of particular cultural beliefs that are common for this region. In addition, it is necessary to mention that crisis situations, natural disasters, or a distinct type of activity have a crucial impact on the development of cultural diversities in different areas.
Impact of Particular Cultural Beliefs
Cultural particularities of diverse regions and nationalities have an influence on the quality of life of patients. For example, in northern parts of China, traditional medicine is the most common way of treatment. Health beliefs are concentrated on the force of nature and the ineffectiveness of the pills. The citizens and the caregivers try to overcome the problem with the use of natural tea or specific potions. Japanese people believe that mental power has a significant impact on the well-being of a person. They have a custom in the field of curing cancer that is wide-spread over the country. All members of the sick human’s family stay in one room and imagine the nearest future where he or she is in good health and continues the ordinary life.
The priests were considered in many cultures as the doctors because people thought that they might have some specific knowledge from God. This is the reason why religious beliefs in some countries still have a vital force in the process of making decisions concerning treatment and health. For example, in Russia, when someone gets ill, his or her relatives go to the church and light a candle for the well-being. From the point of view of Russian citizens, this is an obligatory action for the successful recovery of a human. The nutritional traditions should also be taken into consideration as they noticeably influence the life and health of people. In India, humans prefer to eat spicy food as the epidemiologic situation in the state is severe. The condiments reduce the probability of getting ill because of some bacteria in the fruit or dirty water. Various features of world perception among different nationalities have a significant impact on the governmental healthcare system and the process of treatment.
I am a representative of classical American culture. Its diversity is in the preference of scientific medicine that has strong evidence and proven effectiveness. The impact of the culture is in the absence of religious beliefs and the trust in the professionality of the healthcare workers. The dying process is treated as a natural moment that cannot be avoided but should be organized in the most comfortable way for the patient and his or her relatives. Concerning the medical sphere, there are no specific traditions in American culture. There is a way of life that is supposed to be healthy – eating fruits and vegetables, doing exercises, and having enough pleasant moments.
Alizadeh, S., & Chavan, M. (2016). Cultural competence dimensions and outcomes: A systematic review of the literature. Health & Social Care in the Community, 24(6), 117–130.
Henderson, S., Horne, M., Hills, R., & Kendall, E. (2018). Cultural competence in healthcare in the community: A concept analysis. Health & Social Care in the Community, 26(4), 590–603.
Oberman, M. (2018). Motherhood, abortion, and the medicalization of poverty. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 46(3), 665-671.
Seymour, L. (2018). Cultural immersion and the development of cultural sensitivity. Australian Midwifery News, 18(4), 39–41.