A Teaching Framework for Cross-cultural Health Care
Application in Family Practice
ELOIS ANN BERLIN, PhD, and WILLIAM C. FOWKES, JR, MD, Stanford, California
Significant demographic changes in patient populations have contributed to an increasing awareness of the impact of cultural diversity on the provision of health care. For this reason methods are being developed to improve the cultural sensitivity of persons responsible for giving health care to patients whose health beliefs may be at variance with biomedical models.
Building on methods of elicitation suggested in the literature, we have developed a set of guidelines within a framework called the LEARN model. Health care providers who have been exposed to this educational framework and have incorporated this model into the normal structure of the therapeutic encounter have been able to improve communication, heighten awareness of cultural issues in medical care and obtain better patient acceptance of treatment plans.
The emphasis of this teaching model is not on the dissemination of particular cultural information, though this too is helpful. The primary focus is rather on a suggested process for improved communication, which we see as the fundamental need in cross cultural patient-physician interactions.