From a cultural perspective, healthcare practitioners must consider the challenges associated with minimizing barriers to treatment and the prevention of illness to improve population health. It is important to identify strategies that will accommodate patients from many different population groups that will also facilitate education and knowledge in preventing disease over the long term. In addition, cultural needs and expectations must be addressed at the clinical level in order to accomplish the desired objectives. Preventative medicine and population health are often adversely impacted by cultural diversity, in spite of the best intentions. As a result, it is necessary to consider the most relevant concerns associate with cultural diversity and its impact on population health and disease prevention. The following discussion will address these challenges in greater detail and will emphasize the importance of different approaches to healthcare practice using cultural diversity as a means of knowledge generation and improved quality of care.
Cultural diversity is identified in all areas of healthcare practice and signifies various responses to care and treatment across different population groups (Bhui and Dinos, 2008). In particular, mental health status is largely impacted by care and treatment directives in ways that often create even greater challenges for many patients (Bhui and Dinos, 2008). Therefore, it is necessary to address some of the most important concerns that are related to healthcare outcomes for patients so that all population groups will benefit from consistency and appropriateness in quality of care and treatment, particularly in the mental health sector (Bhui and Dinos, 2008). There are considerable opportunities available to improve cultural awareness and recognition within healthcare practice so that populations from different cultural groups are provided with the level of care and treatment that is desirable to improve quality of life across different population groups (Bhui and Dinos, 2008). The adoption of multicultural principles may bridge the gap between current practices and the potential for growth in creating new directions in cultural awareness throughout the healthcare sector (Bhui and Dinos, 2008).
Establishing an environment that embraces education and knowledge acquisition to promote cultural awareness is essential to the growth and expansion of healthcare outcomes (Bednarz et.al, 2010). As a result, it is more important than ever to develop strategies to expand education for nurses and other healthcare providers at the classroom level so that they become culturally competent in their areas of interest (Bednarz et.al, 2010). These efforts support the ongoing acceptance of cultural diversity as a means of growth and improved quality of care for all patients (Bednarz et.al, 2010). This also includes increased knowledge by faculty members providing education to clinical students in a variety of settings (Bednarz et.al, 2010). It is expected that the continued development of clinical practice objectives will play an important role in shaping outcomes for patients from diverse cultures and in supporting their health and wellbeing over the long term (Bednarz et.al, 2010).
Establishing an environment that embraces optimal training and education must be free of barriers and support expanded knowledge in the area of cultural competence (Pecukonis et.al, 2008). Training within the healthcare professions must effectively adapt to the need for expanded knowledge of cultural diversity in order to accomplish the desired objectives in healthcare practice, including clinical support and population health (Pecukonis et.al, 2008). These findings also suggest that educators must provide cross-training to their students so that they will recognize the importance of specific practice methods and their impact on other roles and responsibilities (Pecukonis et.al, 2008). These efforts are important because they demonstrate the need for interdisciplinary education as a platform for promoting cultural diversity and understanding throughout healthcare practice (Pecukonis et.al, 2008).
The utilization of existing frameworks throughout the healthcare sector requires professionals to adapt to and embrace cultural diversity and awareness across a variety of disciplines (Bowen, 2008). However, many organizations are not adept in this area and do not possess the level of knowledge that is necessary to provide equal treatment to all patients (Bowen, 2008). Therefore, from a organizational point of view, many employees do not share the same perspectives regarding quality of care and treatment, and therefore, some populations suffer (Bowen, 2008). It is the responsibility of organizations to consider these obstacles and to provide adequate training to reduce these barriers to promote effective outcomes for all patients (Bowen, 2008). From this perspective, best practice strategies must be based upon cultural awareness and diversity in different forms (Bowen, 2008). These contributions will enable organizations to embrace diversity in a positive manner to improve outcomes for all patients across all cultures (Bowen, 2008).
Successful healthcare strategies are designed to promote an optimal clinical environment to support all patients and their specific needs. It is important to obtain greater knowledge and understanding of cultural diversity as a basis for health improvements across different population groups. These efforts are critical in the development of new ideas and approaches to healthcare practice that embrace diversity so that all cultures are recognized as such and treated equally. Therefore, changes within the healthcare system require the ongoing development of new strategic approaches to expand knowledge and promote a greater understanding of healthcare practice as it influences standards of patient care and quality. Healthcare professionals must take advantage of different opportunities to support growth and expansion of care and treatment across different cultures in order to promote a well-rounded approach to improving quality of life for all patients.
Bednarz, H., Schim, S., and Doorenbos, A. (2010). Cultural diversity in nursing education: perils, pitfalls, and pearls. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(5), 253-260.
Bhui, K., and Dinos, S. (2008). Health beliefs and culture. Disease Management & Health Outcomes, 16(6), 411-419.
Bowen, S. (2008). Beyond self-assessment – assessing organizational cultural responsiveness. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 15(1), 7-15.
Pecukonis, E., Doyle, O., and Bliss, D.L. (2008). Reducing barriers to interprofessional training: promoting interprofessional cultural competence. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 22(4), 417-428.