Education Corner – Cultural Competence through Cultural Humility

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“Seek enlightenment by choosing open-mindedness and curiosity over protecting your point of view…” – Bruna Martinuzzi
Developing cultural humility

1. Know yourself (self-reflection)  – be aware of BIAS*   —-     Before I Assume, Stop!
2. Practice open-mindedness
3. Respect differences
4. Communicate effectively (see cross-cultural communication tool)
5. Don’t make judgments
6. If you don’t know, just ask

*Bias: “Unconscious bias” are attitudes or stereotypes that are activated involuntarily, without individual’s awareness or intentional control and can affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.
Awareness of our unconscious bias is a critical first step to interrupting our associated behavior.

Mindfulness training to interrupt unconscious bias behaviors – ask yourself:
  • What am I feeling?
  • Have I seen this before in myself?
  • What assumptions am I making?
  • What’s informing my decision?

Cross-Cultural Communication Tool  

Question examples can be adapted to any patient/family interaction.

  • Beliefs (“What are your thoughts about death?”)
  • Explanation (“Why do you think this happened at this time?”)
  • Learn (“Help me understand your family’s belief about death.”; “Allow me to explain how we understand and define death.”)
  • Impact (“How will this impact your life?”)
  • Empathy (“This must be very difficult for you.”)
  • Feelings (“How are you feeling about this?”)

(adapted and modified from Dobbie AE, Fam Med 2003)

Dobbie AE, Medrano M, Tysinger J, Olney C. (2003). The BELIEF instrument: a preclinical teaching tool to elicit patients’ health beliefs. Fam Med. 35(5):316-319.

Taken from a webinar presentation by David Acosta, MD, FAAFP, (UC Davis Health System, Sacramento, CA). A special thanks to Dr. Acosta for his contributions in this inservice.

Editor: Hedi Aguiar RN, MSN, Director of Programs and Communications, The Alliance,
This Education Corner is available for downloadThe Alliance grants permission for the distribution and reproduction of this educational communication.


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