In February, we celebrated Black History month to recognize the integral contributions of black or African Americans over historical events and to analyze the positive effects that they have towards societal change. Each month, we need to create cultural awareness and understanding. So, how can accreditation and healthcare support the plight to promote cultural diversity? CMS notes in §482.45(a)(4), to encourage discretion and sensitivity with respect to the circumstances, views, and beliefs of the families of potential organ donors while TJC states in HR.01.04.01 that staff is to be oriented to cultural diversity.
Cultural diversity for healthcare has been simply defined as being “sensitive to the ways in which community members’ values and perceptions about health care differ from his or her own”1. The CDC has noted in the 2010 Census report that 36% of Americans identify with a minority by race or ethnicity and within the next 30 years the census bureau reports that >50% of the population will identify as non-white2. Yet, it must be recognized that we have racial disparities in health care in areas such as infant mortality, diabetes, and breast cancer. These disparities necessitate change and understanding of cultural differences.
Therefore, in health care, there is a need to recognize the disparities between races and enhance more culturally diverse organizations, to begin to disintegrate barriers such as inclusion in research or treatment regimens and access to health care. This is not to change opinion, but to be able to promote knowledge in various cultural practices in order to respect or empathize with a particular practice. So, as an organization, develop programs to continue to elicit continued communication on cultural diversity. Organizations can no longer work in the silos of racial and cultural misunderstanding. All stakeholders, from the governing board to the staff, must recognize and participate in understanding diversity to promote positive health care and societal change.
1Goicoechea-Balbona A. Culturally specific health care model for ensuring health care use by rural, ethnically diverse families affected by HIV/AIDS. Health & Social Work. 1997; 22:172–80
2Colby SL, Ortman JM. Projections of the size and composition of the U.S. population: 2014 to 2060. Current Population Reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau (2014)