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Better care from doctors who are culturally aware
Date:1/14/2013

HIV patients from ethnic minorities receive better quality of care from doctors and other primary healthcare professionals who are the most competent at caring for patients from diverse backgrounds those who are "culturally competent." These patients also tend to manage both their treatment and condition better, according to a new study by Somnath Saha from Portland VA Medical Center, and the Oregon Health & Science University in the US, and colleagues. Their findings appear in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, published by Springer.

The authors explored whether cultural competence a combination of awareness, attitudes, skills and behaviors related to doctors' ability to care for diverse patient groups can result in more equitable care, with a focus on HIV patients specifically. HIV infection is a leading contributor to racial inequalities in both health and life expectancy in the US. This is due in part to the fact that minority individuals with HIV/AIDS are less likely than whites to receive antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, and to stick to their ARV regimens once prescribed. These differences in treatment inevitably lead to disparities in health outcomes for these patients, including viral suppression, progression to AIDS and death.

There has been a push by healthcare professional organizations to increase the cultural competence of their members, i.e. the effectiveness with which they deal with patients from diverse backgrounds. Saha and team's study assesses whether cultural competence does indeed lead to better treatment and outcomes for minority HIV patients.

The researchers surveyed 45 providers and 437 patients at four urban HIV clinics (Baltimore, Detroit, New York, and Portland) who took part in the Enhancing Communication and HIV Outcomes (ECHO) study. The medical professionals rated their own cultural competence on a 20-item questionnaire. The researchers measured patients' outcomes, including whether or not
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Contact: Alexander Brown
alexander.brown@springer.com
212-620-8043
Springer Science+Business Media
Source:Eurekalert

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