How Culture Affects Communication

Intercultural communication in its most basic form refers to understanding how people from different countries and cultures behave, communicate and perceive the world around them. Given the growing multicultural population in the US, intercultural communication research is actively being applied in healthcare settings so that doctors and their staffs can relate effectively to their patients from...
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Time Control: Coping with Late Patients and No-Shows

In many private pediatric and family practices, as well as the Child Health Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado, providers and staff talk about the challenges of working with patients and families who show up very late for appointments – or no-show entirely   A Cross-Cultural Perspective Remember that people’s sense of time and time management is very much culturally based. A minute is a...
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Developing a Cross-Cultural Mindset

Memorizing lists of dos and don’ts per culture is impractical and leads to stereotyping. When we stereotype people we tend to apply characteristics rigidly, as if to say that ALL people from a particular culture believe the same things and behave in the same ways. This simply does not leave room for the great variety in human experience, individual personality, and so on. To begin building an...
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Eliciting Quality Patient Responses in Cross-Cultural Care

The cultural worlds created by humans are not controlled by universal laws of science; each culture operates according to its own internal dynamic. Even members of a given culture acquire most of what they know in the process of growing up. Relating to other people isn’t learned the way, for example, disease theory is learned. So culture can’t be distilled into learned facts and doctors really...
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8 Tips for Communicating with Limited English Proficiency Patients

Many of the private practices I have visited for the purpose of cross-cultural training are lucky to have staff and providers on their team who speak Spanish and other foreign languages. However, some practices are seeing patients from such diverse cultural backgrounds that it is impossible to have staff and providers capable of understanding all the languages of these patients. During...
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Eight Dimensions of American Culture

Cultural aspects of everyday life are often difficult for people of dominant cultures to discern because their practices, traditions, values, and understandings are taken for granted as the norm. For them, there’s no apparent need to examine cultural difference, and thus, no inclination to do so. In the US, middle-class European Americans are typically so unaware of their own culture they...
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Understanding Your Own Culture First

  “In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” — Bertrand Russell Self-reflection is crucial to the cross-cultural learning process. Without understanding that everyone has a culture, and that knowledge of one’s own culture is crucial, we have a tendency to reduce learning about...
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Culturally Responsive Care

For many years, cultural factors were largely absent from health care dialogues around patient-centered care and medical home initiatives. The current strong emphasis on cultural factors in medical care mirrors the rapid demographic changes in this country, and cultural competency has now become a favorite buzzword of policy makers, researchers, medical educators, and health care providers. The...
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