Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and other capabilities acquired by man as a member of the society. Its components include knowledge, beliefs, norms, techniques, folkways, mores, laws, values, material culture, and universal culture. Health programs and interventions are more effective when they are “culturally appropriate” for the populations they serve. Each medical encounter provides the opportunity for the interface of several different cultures: the culture of the patient, the culture of the physician, and the culture of medicine. Peripheral, evidential, linguistic, constituent involving, and sociocultural strategies enable the health worker practice culturally sensitive healthcare delivery. Cultural targeting and cultural tailoring are applied to groups and individuals, respectively, by taking their peculiarities into account in making health care available to them. A combination of both approaches is recommended for optimal health outcomes. Cultural competency is the answer to the need for previously lacking cultural consideration in planning and delivering care. It enables the health worker overcome organizational and clinical barriers which continually impede efficient and effective healthcare delivery.
Part of the book: Current Issues in Global Health