Cultural Competence

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February 4, 2011
Cultural Competence in Physical Therapy Practice
To be culturally competent physical therapists need to understand their own world view and those of the patient, while avoiding stereotyping and misapplication of scientific knowledge (cross, et al. 1989). Therapists must take into account eight characteristics that involve the dimensions of diversity: age, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, mental and physical activity, religion and socioeconomic status. But before they do that, physical therapists must assess themselves as individuals. Cultural competence is obtaining cultural information and then applying that knowledge. This cultural awareness allows us to see the entire picture and improve the quality of care and health outcomes. Adapting to different cultural beliefs and practices requires flexibility and respect for others view points. Cultural competence means to really listen to the patient, to find out and learn about the patient's beliefs of health and illness. To provide culturally appropriate care we need to know and to understand culturally influenced health behaviors. Culture also influences how people seek health care and how they behave toward health care providers. How we care for patients and how patients respond to this care is greatly influenced by culture. Health care providers must possess the ability and knowledge to communicate and to understand health behaviors influenced by patients’ culture. Having this ability and knowledge can eliminate barriers to the delivery of health care.  Cultural competency is an ongoing self evaluation, that we continually adapt and reevaluate the way things are done. For physical therapists, it is very important to demonstrate to our patients that we are not only clinically experts but we also culturally competent, that we truly care for them and their needs. A number of factors lead to discrepancies in health and health care among racial and ethnic groups, including those with...
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