The importance of effective communications between healthcare provider and patient are to ensure that the best evidence-based practices are being utilized to assist in the curative or preventative manner in which the patient is seeking medical assistance. The best way to do incorporate this in a manner that promotes cultural competence requires education. Education on the part of the healthcare provider as well as the recipient patient.Effective communication between the participating parties would begin with acknowledging the differences in cultures that may be present, and giving due respect where those differences are concerned. Cultural differences can create barriers to providing and receiving quality, effective healthcare. With lack of knowledge of different cultures on the healthcare providers part, it can lend to a feeling of mistrust on the patient’s part. If an individual feels that their beliefs are not being respected and taken into consideration, it can add to any barriers and misconceptions felt on the patient’s part, and prevent the ability to participate in a trusting relationship between provider and patient (Purnell, 2013).
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An individual’s culture defines the way that they make sense of the world and influences how they view illnesses and the healthcare experience, and how they make their decisions about accepting and utilizing provided information (Brown et al, 2016). Brown et al (2016) states that in spite of the importance of culture competence in the healthcare field, traditional medical training is lacking in educating the importance of cross-cultural communication. Policies to improve cultural competence knowledge and skills are required to communicate more effectively between patient and provider. Cross-cultural communication includes strategies that acknowledge the individual’s cultural traditions, beliefs or values, and also take into account one’s own beliefs, experiences, and values, without generalizing about the patient (Brown et al, 2016). When the healthcare provider is more knowledgeable in the diverse cultures that he or she may come in contact with in their career, it can help set the basis of a strong, successful working relationship. Communication is key in setting the stage for this new relationship between the participants, and can help the provider learn even more about the patient, their backgrounds, beliefs and goals. Communication between the healthcare practitioner and the patient, and their family and social support, is key to reaching mutually agreed upon healthcare goals (Brown et al, 2016).
Cross-cultural communication can also be seen as a hinderance with lack of knowledge on how to communicate efficiently. Within cultural groups, people learn their rules: like who is allowed to communicate with whom; when, where and how something may be communicated; and what to communicate about. Sometimes, language and personal beliefs can get in the way of successful communication. When people use slang in context with people outside of their own group, effective communication often fails and creates misunderstanding and barriers between the participants (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). This is more often seen when healthcare workers and providers are trying to communicate with individuals who may have limited healthcare literacy (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Health literacy is defined as the degree to which an individual has the ability to obtain, process, and comprehend basic health information and the services needed to make appropriate, informed healthcare decisions (Purnell, 2013).
By ensuring we are more open to the cultural differences of the patient in front of us, we can begin to be good stewards of the health they are entrusting us with. By showing respect for the multitude of cultures we will come in contact with in this career as advanced practice nurses, we can also earn the trust of those we seek to assist. Trust sets the basis for a more successful relationship, and should ideally lead to more positive healthcare compliance and outcomes.
Brown, E. A., Bekker, H. L., Davison, S. N., Koffman, J., & Schell, J. O. (2016). Supportive care: Communication strategies to improve cultural competence in shared decision making. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 11(10), 1902-1908. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2215/CJN.13661215
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Culture & Health Literacy. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/culture.html
Purnell, L. (2013). Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach (4th ed.). Philadephia, PA: F. A. Davis Co.