Family Medicine in a Culturally Diverse World

A Solution-oriented Approach to Common Cross-cultural Problems in Medical Encounters
Johanna Shapiro, PhD

As the population of the United States becomes increasingly diversified, sensitivity to cultural factors in family medicine can only benefit patients, their families, and their physicians. Demographic data pointing to major population shifts, especially in certain border states, make it imperative that family physicians are adequately trained to deal with patients in a multiethnic, culturally diverse society. Further, there are encouraging indications of increasing ethnic diversity among residents in family practice residency programs.v reminding us that cultural differences are a two-way street.

Despite the importance of cultural sensitivity in effective patient care, curricular time to provide this cross-cultural training is extremely limited.As Burkett points out, culture is marginalized in most interpretations of the biopsychosocial model, which is one of our main teaching paradigms of patient behavior and patient-physician interaction. Further, there is significant controversy about what type of training to employ.

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