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Latino culture and healthcare

(Article by Daniel Catalaa, published Oct 23rd, 2013)
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If you work for a large medical institution in the United States, you will eventually be introduced to the notions of "culture" and "cultural differences" and there will be an expectation that you will become aware of these concepts and be sensitive to them. Yet I have found that most trainings in this area are overly generic and lack specific examples. So you end up listening to the Human Resources' cultural sensitivity presentation, but when you get back on the job, for the life of you, you cannot remember what to look out for or what you could do to rescue a situation where a cultural norm, yours or the patient's, was transgressed.

It is in this spirit that I have prepared a list of key cultural topics accompanied by real life scenarios that illustrate conflicts and their resolution. Specifically, I will address how a medical provider who develops familiarity with both Anglo and Latino cultures can increase trust and understanding and get better results. For this discussion, "culture" refers to the beliefs, perspectives, ideology, superstitions, and expectations that are most prevalent within a particular group.

Author's qualifications: Daniel Catalaa has worked for 15 years with the San Francisco Bay Area Latino immigrant patient community as a Certified Medical Interpreter mainly at Sutter Health California Pacific Medical Center, and has lived abroad in Europe and South America for 20 years. He received health care as a patient in England, Italy, France, Argentina, and the USA, and completed a bachelors and masters degree in Cell and Molecular Biology.

Articles on Key Cultural Differences

Each of the articles below explores a specific aspect of culture that has a direct impact on patient-provider relations and the delivery of medical care:

Article Anglo Culture
top values
Latino Culture
top values
Communication style Direct
Less context
Assertive
Indirect
More context
Show deference
Decision Making Patient-driven
Doctor-driven
Health literacy Informed patients
Some awarenesss of healthcare system
Uninformed patients
Low awareness of healthcare system
Notions of time Efficiency
Precision
Protection
Enjoyment
Flexibility
Improvisation
Personal Interactions Informality
Equality
Boundaries
Formality
Deference
Connection
Religion and philosophy Free will
Science-oriented
Fatalism/Determinism
Christianity-oriented
Self-identification Job-defined identity
Nationality-defined identity
commonly arise in the USA healthcare system. -->

If you work for a large medical institution in the United States, you will eventually be introduced to the notions of "culture" and "cultural differences" and there will be an expectation that you will become aware of these concepts and be sensitive to them. Yet I have found that most trainings in this area are overly generic and lack specific examples. So you end up listening to the Human Resources' cultural sensitivity presentation, but when you get back on the job, for the life of you, you cannot remember what to look out for or what you could do to rescue a situation where a cultural norm, yours or the patient's, was transgressed.

It is in this spirit that I have prepared a list of key cultural topics accompanied by real life scenarios that illustrate conflicts and their resolution. Specifically, I will address how a medical provider who develops familiarity with both Anglo and Latino cultures can increase trust and understanding and get better results. For this discussion, "culture" refers to the beliefs, perspectives, ideology, superstitions, and expectations that are most prevalent within a particular group.

Author's qualifications: Daniel Catalaa has worked for 15 years with the San Francisco Bay Area Latino immigrant patient community as a Certified Medical Interpreter mainly at Sutter Health California Pacific Medical Center, and has lived abroad in Europe and South America for 20 years. He received health care as a patient in England, Italy, France, Argentina, and the USA, and completed a bachelors and masters degree in Cell and Molecular Biology.

Articles on Key Cultural Differences

Each of the articles below explores a specific aspect of culture that has a direct impact on patient-provider relations and the delivery of medical care:

Article Anglo Culture
top values
Latino Culture
top values
Communication style Direct
Less context
Assertive
Indirect
More context
Show deference
Decision Making Patient-driven
Doctor-driven
Health literacy Informed patients
Some awarenesss of healthcare system
Uninformed patients
Low awareness of healthcare system
Notions of time Saving time is ideal
Precise and accurate time management
Spending time together is ideal
Flexibility and improvisation
Personal Interactions Informality
Equality
Boundaries
Formality
Deference
Connection
Religion and philosophy Free will
Science-oriented
Fatalism/Determinism
Christianity-oriented
Self-identification Job-defined identity
Nationality-defined identity