In the United States, there is an increasing cultural diversity in its population. Cultural diversity brings about challenges and opportunities for health care systems, policymakers, and providers to deliver and create culturally competent services. According to Lamiani (2008), cultural competence is the ability of organizations and providers to efficiently deliver healthcare services that meet the linguistic, social, and cultural requirements of the patients. A health care system that is culturally competent assist in enhancing the quality of care and health outcomes and helps in eliminating ethnic and racial health disparities. The interview with Paa, a Ph.D. student from Ghana who has been living in the U.S. for the last five years, highlights the challenges diversity in nations poses to the health care system. In this light, the paper will list the cultural barriers addressed in this interview with Paa, explore whether or not there was a sense of cultural humility in the interview and those aspects of the interview that Paa could have handled more culturally competent.
Cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings between health care providers and communication. Comprehending how one's culture influences their perceptions of medicine and health makes a difference in realizing their medical needs and how to communicate with them (Lamiani, 2008). In the interview with Paa, several cultural barriers have been addressed, including communication differences, cultural expectations, norms, and traditions. Paa points out that in his country of origin, pregnant women are required to stop eating certain types of foods and are encouraged to eat others including snails, mushrooms, and palm nut soup, which help make the baby stronger. Moreover, in the first three months after conception, the mother is required to do easy chores or nothing at all since the pregnancy is delicate. Also, in the last three months, they are required to do easy tasks or nothing at all. However, in the U.S. Paa’s wife was working and going to school during pregnancy, which is one of the cultural barriers he addresses. Besides, he argues that they followed all the doctor's instructions during pregnancy. After the birth of his daughter he does not asking questions since, in his culture, they respect the doctors’ opinion.
Fisher-Borne et al. (2015) define cultural humility as a respectful and humble attitude towards people from other cultures. It makes a person challenge their own cultural biases, realize they cannot possibly know everything about a different culture, and approach learning about other cultures as a long-life goal and process (Fisher-Borne et al., 2015). In the interview with Paa, there is a sense of cultural humility by healthcare professionals. Paa discloses that when his wife went to the hospital, health practitioners asked for the family's health history, including genetic conditions in the family such as diabetes. The doctors did this to learn their client’s culture and medical history which may be important for the growth and development of the unborn. They continued using medical record history after the baby was born. Besides, when Paa's daughter was born, the doctors conducted several tests. He tried to read a lot to ascertain what the doctors were doing to her daughter. He was committed to learning about the medical culture of the U.S. as it pertains to the baby's wellbeing. Indeed, despite his culture not questioning people in a position of authority, he realized that in the U.S. healthcare system people who do not ask questions, do not get the required information. Paa started asking as many questions as possible, which helped him better understand the health conditions his baby was being tested for. the doctors and Paa realized that every person has a role to play in the healthcare provision and wellbeing of the child. Thus, the practitioner knows about the health issues that Paa does not; however, he has an understanding outside the scope of the doctor. Lastly, Paa developed a partnership with healthcare professionals for the well-being of his daughter by recognizing and valuing diversity. Therefore, therapeutic relations are forged with cultural humility, recognizing that people are always learning and growing.
There are three cultural aspects Paa would have addressed in a more culturally competent manner, including awareness of his cultural overview, knowledge of different cultural practices and world views, and attitude towards cultural differences. Cultural competence leads to an individual’s ability to comprehend, communicate with, and effectively interact with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds (Lamiani, 2008). Paa should have developed consciousness of his reactions to people who are culturally different. As such, Paa should have a personal awareness of how doctors tend to perceive people from other nations. He should be aware that when he does not ask many questions, they assume that he does not know what is better for the child. Thus, they act in the best interest of the child. As such, if he had been aware of these reactions, he would have interacted better with the doctors. Secondly, Paa's attitude towards cultural differences is wanting. He should seek training to recognize his cultural bias and beliefs in general. The training has the individual carefully examine their own beliefs and values about cultural differences. As such, if he had tried to read more about the U.S. prenatal and postnatal healthcare services beliefs and cultural biases, Paa would have been aware of the cultural differences. Lastly, Paa needed to have acquired sufficient knowledge about the cultural beliefs and values of U.S. healthcare about equality that is inconsistent with their behaviors. Paa would not have done things that exemplify cross-cultural prejudice. Therefore, Paa should have performed better with regard to the cultural elements of awareness, attitude, and knowledge about the U.S. healthcare culture.
The interview with Paa highlights the need for cultural competency in healthcare service delivery. Paa addresses cultural barriers he experienced in health care provision, including chores continuation during pregnancy, poor communication, and nutrition. Moreover, both health practitioners and Paa exhibited signs of cultural humility. Lastly, Paa would have addressed three cultural aspects in the interview, including awareness, attitude, and knowledge.
Fisher-Borne, M., Cain, J. M., & Martin, S. L. (2015). From mastery to accountability: Cultural humility as an alternative to cultural competence. Social Work Education, 34(2), 165-181. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02615479.2014.977244
Lamiani, G. (2008). Cultural competency in healthcare: learning across boundaries. Patient Education and Counseling, 73(2), 396-397. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0738399108003996
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