Half of Resident Physicians Report Receiving Minimal Cross-Cultural Training

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<p>With the population of the United States becoming more and more diverse, providing quality health care to all patients--regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, and language proficiency--presents a growing challenge.<br><br>In <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=28195&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D480864%26%23doc480864">a report published</a> by The Commonwealth Fund, researchers, including Joseph R. Betancourt, M.D., M.P.H., and Joel S. Weissman, Ph.D., examine data from a national survey of resident physicians. They find that few residents felt unprepared--in a general sense--to care for patients from racial and ethnic minorities and from diverse cultures. However, when questioned in detail, many admitted to feeling unprepared to care for patients with specific cultural characteristics. For instance, more than one of five felt unprepared to treat patients with cultural issues at odds with Western medicine, religious beliefs that affect care, or patients with limited English proficiency. Moreover, half of residents said they received only minimal training in cross-cultural communication and understanding.<br><br>These deficiencies can compromise the quality of care provided to patients, as well as health outcomes. To improve the training of resident physicians, the authors recommend that cross-cultural curricula--focusing on practical tools and skills--be integrated into graduate medical education. Modules should include strategies to avoid stereotyping, a framework for communicating across cultures, instruction on using interpreters, and skills for better understanding the community receiving care.</p>