DiversityNursing Blog

Health Care Cultural Considerations

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Sat, Aug 29, 2020 @ 01:22 PM

diverseheadsIn our growing diverse society, health care workers need to understand that applying only traditional westernized medical practices isn't appropriate for many patients and families. Health professionals must have an awareness of different cultural practices and spiritual beliefs in order to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

According to the American Hospital Association, cultural competency in health care describes the ability of systems to provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors, including the tailoring of health care delivery to meet patients' social, cultural and linguistic needs.

There can be language barriers so make sure you know your patient’s preferred method of communication and arrange an interpreter. Non-verbal communication may differ across cultures. Don’t make any assumptions without knowing the person's customs.

Many cultures have special dietary considerations. Hospital staff should be educated about food culture, which is a term used to describe the non‐nutritive, yet nonetheless significant, aspects of food, such as when food is eaten and how it is served.

For example, Jewish patients do not eat pork or shellfish. Muslim patients also do not consume pork. Muslims will eat only permitted food (halal) and will not eat or drink anything that is considered forbidden (haram). Halal food requires that Allah's name is invoked at the time the animal is killed. Lamb, beef, goat and chicken, for example, are halal as long as a Muslim kills them and offers a prayer. Fish and eggs are also halal. Buddhist are mostly vegetarian, though Buddhists may eat meat if it has not been killed for them specifically.

Health care workers should use effective communication to increase their understanding about the patient's spiritual beliefs and practices. Your workplace should offer spiritual counselors like a chaplain or a rabbi. It is a good idea to have a non-denominational prayer and meditation room which can serve as an inclusive sacred space for staff and patients of all religious backgrounds.

Management should take an active role in promoting culturally competent workplace training courses and resources.

Our calendar of cultural dates is a great tool to assist staff with respectful scheduling and diversity celebrations.

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Topics: cultural competence, culturally competent care, racial health disparities, cultural considerations, ethnic disparities in health care

Culturally Competent Care For LGBTQ Patients

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Apr 20, 2018 @ 02:25 PM

sc-fam-lgbtq-health-care-0220Healthcare organizations strive to provide culturally competent care for individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). Recent changes in society, including the legalization of gay marriage have raised public awareness of LGBTQ issues. Yet many healthcare professionals lack knowledge in some areas when caring for LGBTQ patients.

Michael Johnson, PhD, RN, understands the barriers faced by LGBTQ patients and the assumption often made by healthcare professionals that all patients are heterosexual. 

According to a Nurse.com article, Johnson said, “Some members of the LGBTQ community avoid seeking healthcare services because of previous negative experiences in which they faced discrimination. Studies have shown most LGBTQ patients want to be able to share their sexual orientation or gender identity with their healthcare provider, but are often reluctant to open up because they fear they may be treated badly or even refused care."

LGBTQ individuals have a long history of discrimination at the individual and institutional levels, including the healthcare system. They may check to see if the environment is a safe place to reveal personal information, especially about sexuality. Some things an individual may take note of during their time in your waiting room area include:

  • Your organization’s nondiscrimination policy: Is it in a visible location?
  • A rainbow flag, pink triangle, or other symbol of inclusiveness
  • Availability of unisex restrooms
  • Health education literature with diverse images and inclusive language, including information about LGBTQ health
  • Posters announcing days of observance such as World AIDS Day, Pride, and National Transgender Day of Remembrance

To understand LGBTQ populations and their health needs, it is important to first define the distinct core concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity. You can read about key LGBTQ terms here.

LGBTQ health requires specific attention from health care and public health professionals to address a number of disparities, including:

  • LGBT youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide.
  • LGBT youth are more likely to be homeless.
  • Lesbians are less likely to get preventive services for cancer.
  • Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other STDs, especially among communities of color.
  • Lesbians and bisexual females are more likely to be overweight or obese.
  • Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STDs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide and are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual or LGB individuals.
  • Elderly LGBT individuals face additional barriers to health because of isolation and a lack of social services and culturally competent providers.
  • LGBT populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use.
 
lgbtq quote
Nurses should avoid asking any unnecessary questions. People are sometimes curious about LGBTQ people and their lives, which can lead them to want to learn more by asking the patient questions. However, like everyone else, LGBTQ people want to keep their medical and personal lives private. Before asking any personal questions, first ask yourself: “Is my question necessary for the patient’s care, or am I asking it for my own curiosity?" If for your own curiosity, it is not appropriate to ask. Think instead about: “What do I know? What do I need to know? How can I ask for the information I need to know in a sensitive way?"

Effectively serving LGBTQ patients requires you to understand the cultural context of their lives, and to modify your procedures, behavior, and language to be inclusive, non-judgmental, and helpful at all times. By doing this, healthcare staff can help ensure that LGBTQ patients receive the level of care that everyone deserves. What helpful information can you add regarding this topic?

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Topics: LGBTQ, LGBTQ Healthcare, cultural competency, LGBTQ health disparities, culturally competent care

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