‘Culturally competent’ doctors sorely needed
A study has found that more black and Hispanic doctors are needed to address their respective communities in order to provide better health care.
“What happens with the health outcome, depends upon good communication, the trust and credibility between the health professional and the individual seeking care, and an understanding of the patient’s culture, value system, so that one can develop, hopefully, a strong relationship or interaction between the health professional and the individual,” Dr. Louis Sullivan says.
“Otherwise what we see resulting are a lack of compliance, people not returning for appointments, not filling prescriptions, not doing a number of things they should be doing as part of the health exchange,” Sullivan explains.
Studies indicate African-Americans and Hispanics receive a poorer quality of health care than non-Hispanic whites, even when they have the same levels of income and health insurance coverage.
Researchers say the reasons for this disparity include stereotyping of patients by health care providers, and a severe shortage of minority health care professionals.
Dr, Sullivan argues that in addition to more African-American and Hispanic doctors, “culturally competent” physicians – those familiar with a patient’s language, customs and beliefs are sorely needed.
“It will be decades before our health care system truly mirrors the makeup of our general population … we want all of our physicians, white, African American, Latino, what have you, to be culturally competent.”