Being respectful of the cultural and linguistic needs of a diverse patient population has an overall positive effect for patients and providers.
Developing dynamic communication techniques is the key to building trust and respect—and is vital to improving patient engagement, adherence, and outcomes.
5 Ways to Become More Culturally Sensitive
Bridge the Language Barrier
Offering language assistance to patients with limited English or communication needs will help them become more comfortable with the medical, emotional, and economic implications of their diagnosis. Check with their specialty pharmacy to see if translation services are available.
Be Aware of Non-verbal Cues
Body language can have different meanings and interpretations across cultures. Follow the patient’s lead, be observant, and demonstrate willingness to adapt your behavior to help meet their health goals.
Deliver a Seamless Experience
Indicate in your patient’s records if special services are necessary, such as transportation or emotional health resources. The goal is to ensure each visit is a positive experience from the moment they walk in the door.
It’s important to go the extra mile to accommodate people’s customs and beliefs—even if you struggle to understand their culture or decisions.
Value People’s Differences
Become aware of your personal values so you don’t stereotype your patient or make incorrect assumptions based on your own cultural beliefs. Rely less on your norms and try to understand culture through a broader perspective.
Being sensitive doesn’t mean you must be an expert in each culture’s beliefs and values. Ask questions, seek clarity, and express empathy to build trust with your patients.