Cultural Awareness

Cultural Awareness

Clinicians need to be respectful of, interested in and understanding of the different cultures and backgrounds of their patients. They should not be stereotyped by ethnicity, age, religion or other social categories. A cultural assessment is a systematic appraisal and understanding an individual’s beliefs, values, and health practices. Different cultural groups will have different health beliefs which can impact on understanding and management, so these will need to be considered and discussed in any treatment plan.

Steps to cultural sensitivity and competence :
• know yourself - examine your own values, attitudes, beliefs, and prejudices and your cultural heritage and identity
• confront biases and stereotypes
• do not judge - do not measure others behaviour against your beliefs and values
• keep an open mind – attempt to look at the world through other cultures’ perspectives
• respect differences among peoples – each group has strengths and weaknesses
• appreciate inherent worth of diverse cultures, value them equally, and do not consider them inferior to one’s own
• Listen! Develop the ability to hear things that transcend language, and foster understanding of the client and his or her cultural heritage and the resilience that supports family and community that comes from within the culture
• be willing to learn: this requires interest in people’s beliefs, values, and practices
• travel, read, and attend local ethnic and cultural events in the community
• develop an awareness and understanding for the complexities of the health care delivery system – its philosophy, problems, biases, and stereotypes – and become keenly aware of the socialisation process that brings the care provider into this complex system
• be resourceful and creative – there are many ways to accomplish the same thing
• adapt your interventions to suit different cultures and individuals

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