Incorporating Cultural Diversity into Your Healthcare System

Friday, August 17th, 2007
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

This week’s Disease Management Update features two recent studies published in the American Cancer Society’s journal CANCER that illustrate that race can and does play a part in disease management. For example, Asian men are have better prostate cancer survival rate, while African American women are worse off when it comes to breast cancer.

These studies highlight the fact that hospitals, physicians and the likes are incorporating diversity into their practices and treating the patient and not just the disease, recognizing that diagnoses and outcomes differ from patient to patient and from race to race.

How can hospitals and primary care providers take steps to incorporate diversity into their practices and accommodate the diverse nature of their patients?

SAMHSA toolkit

  • The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a free resource kit for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian populations that addresses fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Native cultures are known for their understanding of healing, wellness, and the cycles of nature. The Native Initiative works with these strengths and the strengths of community elders to bring Native people messages about FASD that are culturally respectful and meaningful.

  • Patti Ludwig-Beymer, administrative director of education and research at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Illinois says just knowing a few key words of a foreign language helps healthcare providers develop a trusting relationship with their patients.

  • Barnes-Jewish Hospital created a Center for Diversity and Cultural Competence in May 2006 to promote diversity and cultural competence initiatives and programs throughout the hospital, reduce health disparities, promote dialogue for issues of diversity, recruit diverse staff and create an environment where all patients and staff are respected and included. The hospital believes it must face the racial, class and economic inequities in healthcare. The region is home to 52 percent of St. Louis’s African American population, and 17 percent of the population use a primary language other than English. In addition, 24 percent of the population in the region is diverse.

What initiatives are YOUR organization taking to address the issues of diversity and disparities within the healthcare industry? Leave a comment and let us know!

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