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October 2021

Md Med J. 1997 Apr; 46(4): 175-80.

Enhancing patient outcomes through an understanding of intercultural medicine: guidelines for the practitioner.

Scott CJ.

Department of Surgery, University of Maryland Medical Center, USA.

As cultural and ethnic diversity increase within American society, physicians face new challenges in recognizing patients' culturally defined expectations about medical care and the cultural/ethnic dictates that influence physician-patient interactions. Patients present to practitioners with many mores related to concepts of disease and illness, intergenerational communication, decision-making authority, and gender roles. In addition, many cultural groups follow folk medicine traditions, and an increasing number of Americans seek treatment by practitioners of alternative therapies before seeking traditional western medical attention. To facilitate patient assessments, enhance compliance with health care instructions, and thus achieve the best possible medical outcomes and levels of satisfaction, practitioners must acknowledge and respect the cultural differences patients bring to medical care environments.

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