“Often, when there are cultural and language barriers, a disengaged family can make caring for the patient very challenging,” Dr. Enderby says. “Having the family involved can help everyone feel more aligned with a treatment plan or strategy.”
For Alpesh Amin, MD, associate professor of medicine and vice chair for Clinical Affairs and Quality in the Department of Medicine at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine, being aware of a patient’s cultural values is critical to quality care. As executive director of the hospitalist program at the UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif., Dr. Amin helped develop curriculum to train students on how to collect “values history” from patients, which includes asking questions about religion and culture. Students document their own values history, and then ask the same questions of a patient. Students discuss patient care and the importance of these histories during small group sessions.
“Knowing a patient’s cultural information is just as important as knowing their sexual history or drug history,” Dr. Amin says. “It’s another piece of information that helps you get to know them as a whole. Their overall care is more comprehensive, if you have this knowledge.” TH
Gina Gotsill is a journalist based in California.