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Med Care. 2003 Jul;41(7):859-70.

Cultural sensitivity in physician-patient relationships: perspectives of an ethnically diverse sample of low-income primary care patients.

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  • 1University of Florida, Gainesville 32611, USA.

Erratum in

  • Med Care. 2003 Dec;41(12):1330.



Health care providers and health care training institutions need more specific, relevant, and useful information for providing culturally sensitive health care.


We sought to determine what patients considered to be culturally sensitive health care.


We conducted 20 focus group interviews with 135 mostly low-income primary care patients from three different ethnic/cultural groups (African American, European American, and Latino American). Focus group interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed into themes by two researchers using the constant comparative method.


Participants' responses were grouped into primary and secondary themes.


Results revealed the following universal themes of health care delivery by physicians that all three racial or ethnic groups identified as indicators of culturally sensitive health care: people skills, individualized treatment, effective communication, and technical competence. Results also revealed some ethnic group-specific themes. Other factors including physical environment characteristics (eg, culturally sensitive art, pictures, music, and reading materials) and office staff behaviors were unique indicators of culturally sensitive health care identified by African American and Latino American participants but not by European American participants.


These findings can be incorporated into training programs for health care providers, possibly resulting in more effective health care delivery to patients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Future research is needed to evaluate the impact of incorporating patient-identified cultural sensitivity into health care delivery on important outcome measures such as patient satisfaction and treatment adherence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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