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Ann Intern Med. 1999 May 18;130(10):829-34.

Cross-cultural primary care: a patient-based approach.

Author information

  • 1New York Presbyterian Hospital-New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, USA.


In today's multicultural society, assuring quality health care for all persons requires that physicians understand how each patient's sociocultural background affects his or her health beliefs and behaviors. Cross-cultural curricula have been developed to address these issues but are not widely used in medical education. Many curricula take a categorical and potentially stereotypic approach to "cultural competence" that weds patients of certain cultures to a set of specific, unifying characteristics. In addition, curricula frequently overlook the importance of social factors on the cross-cultural encounter. This paper discusses a patient-based cross-cultural curriculum for residents and medical students that teaches a framework for analysis of the individual patient's social context and cultural health beliefs and behaviors. The curriculum consists of five thematic units taught in four 2-hour sessions. The goal is to help physicians avoid cultural generalizations while improving their ability to understand, communicate with, and care for patients from diverse backgrounds.

Comment in

  • Cross-cultural primary care. [Ann Intern Med. 2000]
  • Cross-cultural primary care. [Ann Intern Med. 2000]
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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