In the article titled Cultural Competence and the African American Experience with Health Care, the authors Arnorld R. Eiser and Glenn Ellis examine the relevant cultural and historical information that influences the ways in which African Americans perceive and receive health care. Already in the abstract, the authors have made it clear that a deep analysis of the cultural and historical factors related to the African American community can help provide a competent and adequate healthcare. Home remedies, interaction between religion and health care, health literacy and racial factors are the keys to understand their ethnicity, hence providing a set of reliable tools to fill the gaps that exist in cross-cultural communication in clinical matters (Eiser & Ellis, 2007).
The purpose of the article is to highlight the value of an open and multi-sided cultural approach in communication between different cultures, especially referring to ethnic minorities. The knowledge of certain specific cultural aspects, in fact, can improve exponentially the quality of the healthcare services delivered. A good example supporting this thesis, is provided by the African American religious beliefs, which make them have a holistic approach towards health care . The reasons are historical. On one hand, the church has represented the unique source of salvation for black people during the slavery, thus African Americans has placed their faith on it to the extent that they trust that they can acquire cure for any disease simply through believing (Eiser & Ellis, 2007). On the other hand, the intense sense of spirituality of African Americans is also rooted in their traditional beliefs on herbal remedies as well as in the use of magical remedies. In order to reach an effective cross-cultural communication, it is important to notice that both the deep religious sense and the beliefs in herbal remedies, are not in contrast with the medical purposes, and they can coexist with a scientific approach, even enhancing the health outcomes. In fact, accepting the cultural diversities enables health care professionals, especially psychologists, to understand the reasons of certain behaviors and attitudes towards health and health care among African Americans Summing up, an open and respectful approach to the cultural perspectives of patients belonging to ethnic minorities, can improve not only the delivery of quality healthcare services to those subjects, but also can enrich the cultural background of the medical personnel, making them more flexible and receptive to different inputs, thus becoming more effective.
Eiser, AR. & Ellis, G. (2007). Cultural Competence and the African American Experience with Health Care. Journal of Acad Med. 82, 176-183. Retrieved from http://www.mopaonline.org/uploads/9/4/5/9/9459095/cultural_competence_and_the_african_american_experience_with_health_care_-__the_case_for_specific_content_in_cross-cultural_education.pdf