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Provider Tips:
Caring for Patients From Other Cultures

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The United States has been called a nation of immigrants. Differences in the health care beliefs and expectations between immigrant patients and providers trained in Western medicine makes clinical encounters challenging for both parties. What follows are a few tips and web links to help you care for patients new to our health care system.

Learn About the Patient's Community

As part of your patient's history, ask about beliefs (family, community, ethnicity) relating to the concerns and traditional or accepted methods for treating illness.

Culture Cluesİ are tip sheets for clinicians designed to increase awareness about concepts and preferences of patients from diverse cultures.

Link to EthnoMed:
EthnoMed contains information about the varied immigrant communities that live in the Northwest. Cultural beliefs, barriers to health care access and demographics of Northwest communities and information about specific health problems are included here. Site includes patient education materials.

Working with an Interpreter

If you are working with an interpreter, link to "Guidelines for Interpreted Visits:"

Use Handouts

Tailor a brochure for your patients that tells them what to expect, how to schedule appointments, how to obtain medication refills, after hours concerns, what hospital you use etc. Teach the culture of your practice so that you and your patients can find common ground.
See "Your Clinic Visit: For Immigrant Women and Others New to the US Medical System".

Look for other Web Resources

Office Of Minority Health Resources:

National Women's Health Information Center for Minority Women:

Diversity Rx promotes language and cultural competence to improve the quality of health care for minority, immigrant, and ethnically diverse communities.

Providers Guide to Quality & Culture.

American Public Health Association's site on maternal health practices and beliefs of recent immigrants from Latin American, Asia and Africa.


More Resources

Sharon A Dobie, MD
Associate Professor
Department of Family Medicine
University of Washington Medical Center

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