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Ann Oncol. 2012 Apr;23 Suppl 3:33-42. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mds086.

Patient-centered care: the key to cultural competence.

Author information

1
Department of General Oncology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA. depner@mdanderson.org

Abstract

Much of the early literature on 'cultural competence' focuses on the 'categorical' or 'multicultural' approach, in which providers learn relevant attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors of certain cultural groups. In essence, this involves learning key 'dos and don'ts' for each group. Literature and educational materials of this kind focus on broad ethnic, racial, religious, or national groups, such as 'African American', 'Hispanic', or 'Asian'. The problem with this categorical or 'list of traits' approach to clinical cultural competence is that culture is multidimensional and dynamic. Culture comprises multiple variables, affecting all aspects of experience. Cultural processes frequently differ within the same ethnic or social group because of differences in age cohort, gender, political association, class, religion, ethnicity, and even personality. Culture is therefore a very elusive and nebulous concept, like art. The multicultural approach to cultural competence results in stereotypical thinking rather than clinical competence. A newer, cross cultural approach to culturally competent clinical practice focuses on foundational communication skills, awareness of cross-cutting cultural and social issues, and health beliefs that are present in all cultures. We can think of these as universal human beliefs, needs, and traits. This patient centered approach relies on identifying and negotiating different styles of communication, decision-making preferences, roles of family, sexual and gender issues, and issues of mistrust, prejudice, and racism, among other factors. In the current paper, we describe 'cultural' challenges that arise in the care of four patients from disparate cultures, each of whom has advanced colon cancer that is no longer responding to chemotherapy. We then illustrate how to apply principles of patient centered care to these challenges.

PMID:
22628414
DOI:
10.1093/annonc/mds086
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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