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New Booklet Designed to Improve Communication with Patients of Different Cultures

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000287821.63735.b3

A new booklet is designed to help health care professionals improve their communication with patients of different cultural backgrounds.

The 84-page pocket guide details in simple terms widely accepted cultural mores of various ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Hawaiians.

Within each ethnic group, the guide discusses and describes cultural and language nuances of the subcultures within them, including Caribbean, Cuban, Mexican, Alaska native, Chinese, Japanese, and Pacific Islander.

“This pocket guide is intended to be a reference along a cultural journey, which health care professionals can explore when providing cancer care,” said former US Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, PhD, in a foreword to the book.

“It is an attempt to strike a balance between understanding and delivering culturally sensitive care to racial/ethnic minorities, while not stimulating stereotypical thinking….This pocket guide attempts to make this cultural journey the beginning of a lifelong learning process in cultural competency in the provision of cancer care to racial and ethnic minorities.”

Written by health experts Patricia Matthews-Juarez, PhD, of Meharry Medical College, and Armin D. Weinberg, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine, the booklet, called Cultural Competence In Cancer Care: A Health Professional's Passport, also comes at a time when many medical institutions are putting a premium on educating and training culturally competent health care professionals, a news release notes.

Such cultural competency seeks to replace assumptions and stereotypes about patients with prevailing facts derived from both cross-cultural data and improved provider-patient communications.

Many health experts believe this emphasis on cultural competency will improve quality and equity in health care, thereby reducing misdiagnoses, prolonged illnesses and staggering health care disparities.

A recent study conducted by a commission chaired by former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan, MD, concluded that although African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Americans make up more than 25% of the US population, they represent only 9% of the nation's nurses, 6% of its physicians, and 5% of its dentists.



The disparate numbers are leading to a shortage in health care professionals serving the populations that the pocket guide targets, those researchers said.

The guide, published by Baylor College of Medicine's Intercultural Cancer Council, will be sent to approximately 4,500 community health clinics across the country.

Additional copies, available at $4 each to cover mailing, can be obtained by calling Monique DeLynn at the Intercultural Cancer Council at 713–798-4617.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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