This month’s Wellness in 10 is inspired by National Minority Health & Health Disparities Month (sponsored by the Office of Minority Health Resource Center, www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov).
Tremendous disparities exist in healthcare. For instance, about 30 percent of Hispanic and 20 percent of black Americans lack a usual source of health care compared with less than 16 percent of whites (see http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/minority/disparit/index.html for more health disparity information).
These disparities are attributable to many things such as education, income level, access to health insurance, proximity to healthcare facilities, and even cultural and communication barriers.
If each journey begins with one step, we as individuals can work to change the societal cultural and communication barriers by first focusing on our own views and biases.
Ask yourself the questions below to help determine your level of cultural competence. The questions are intended to help you think about your perceptions, biases, and ideals, and are not intended to be conclusive evidence. You may think about answering these questions with never, sometimes, often, or always.
- Do you value diversity? (I view human difference as positive and a cause for celebration.)
- Do you know yourself? (I have a clear sense of my own ethnic, cultural and racial identity.)
- Do you share your culture? (I am aware that in order to learn more about others I need to understand and be prepared to share my own culture.)
- Are you aware of areas of discomfort? (I am aware of my discomfort when I encounter differences in race, color, religion, sexual orientation, language, and ethnicity.)
- Do you check your assumptions? (I am aware of the assumptions that I hold about people of cultures different from my own.)
- Do you challenge my stereotypes? (I am aware of my stereotypes as they arise and have developed personal strategies for reducing the harm they cause.)
- Do you reflect on how your culture informs your judgment? (I am aware of how my cultural perspective influences my judgment about what are “appropriate,” “normal,” or “superior” behaviors, values, and communication styles.)
- Do you accept ambiguity? (I accept that in cross-cultural situations there can be uncertainty and that uncertainty can make me anxious. It can also mean that I do not respond quickly and take the time needed to get more information.)
- Are you curious? (I take any opportunity to put myself in places where I can learn about difference and create relationships.)
- Are you aware of privilege? (I acknowledge that individuals may be perceived as a people with or without power and racial privilege, and that all individuals may be seen as biased depending on the perspective of other individuals.)