Culturally Responsive Care: What Does It Look Like in Clinical Practice?

Culturally Responsive Care: What Does It Look Like in Clinical Practice?

Culturally Responsive Care: What Does It Look Like in Clinical Practice?

Culturally responsive care. In our multicultural society, learning how to effectively provide care that is culturally aware, sensitive, and responsive to patients from all socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and walks of life is an essential aspect of working as a medical healthcare professional. 

Why? The many different cultures healthcare staff are exposed to will often have contrasting ways of communicating, interacting, and receiving information, as well as varied attitudes and belief systems around what constitutes effective medical treatment and care. Culturally varied patients may also present with dissimilar decision-making styles when it comes to the delivery of care - particularly in terms of end-of-life care.  

Let’s discuss. 

Delivering Culturally Responsive Care: Clinical Frameworks for Medical Professionals

When delivering culturally responsive care, clinical frameworks such as the ABCDE acronym can support medical professionals in providing this type of care most effectively. The acronym can be expanded as follows:


To be a culturally responsive medical practitioner, consider the attitudes of your patients towards healthcare. 

It’s important to ascertain, for example, how much your patients want to know about their diagnosis and treatment. Patients from some cultural backgrounds have been found to prefer minimal involvement in their care plans, preferring instead to leave this up to their treating professionals. 


Next, consider your patients’ spiritual, religious, and cultural beliefs. In some cases, patients may be reluctant to intervene with the natural progression of a health condition, or may even reject certain medical treatments for religious or spiritual reasons.


Contextualizing care means adapting care to fit a patient’s life context. For example, a terminally ill patient may have written in their advanced directive that they do not wish for any medical intervention to support their end-of-life care, preferring instead to let nature take its course. In this context, keeping said patient on an intervenous drip is unhelpful, and disrespects their wishes. 

Decision-Making Style 

When making decisions, different cultural backgrounds will often employ different strategies. Family involvement may be paramount or, in some cases, it may be frowned upon. The input of faith leaders to make medical decisions may also be requested.

In all scenarios, being culturally responsive means respecting the decision-making style of the patient in question. 


Finally, the local community environment the patient belongs to must be considered. For American Hindus in particular, community organizations, and religious societies can provide a great deal of support for patients undergoing palliative care. 

Being a Culturally Responsive Medical Practitioner: Putting Theory into Practice

It’s one thing to develop and understand clinical frameworks for culturally responsive care. It’s another altogether to carry them out. 

If you’re a doctor or nursing practitioner who has completed the relevant agpcnp online programs, you’ll need to learn how to put clinical theory into practice when it comes to performing cultural responsiveness. 

What does this mean? First of all, some cultural responsiveness training may be required. 

In a recent study on cultural responsiveness, several key areas that should be covered during training were identified:

The Importance of Developing Cultural Awareness and Knowledge

This includes being aware of the different attitudes, beliefs, communication, and decision-making styles that come with the varied cultures of presenting patients - and being sensitive to these differences.

Learning How to Apply Cultural Responsiveness Skills

Delivering patient care in a culturally sensitive manner takes self-awareness. Cultural responsiveness skills must, as such, be actively cultivated by medical staff to be able to adhere to them most effectively. Refresher training may be required periodically, to remind staff of the principles and frameworks of the practice. 

Understanding How to Interact in A Culturally Sensitive Manner

As a medical caregiver, you will come across patients from all walks of life. For this reason, you will need to learn how to adapt your communication style to each patient and consider the life context and cultural environment the patient is coming from. 

Issues of Multiculturalism, Diversity, Inclusion, and Racism in Healthcare

According to recent studies, racism in healthcare is rife. With migrant communities making our society increasingly culturally diverse, medical staff need to be trained on issues of racial ethics, to enable them to deliver care that is both inclusive and accepting of cultural differences.