Patient Services,

Departments & Programs,UW Medical Foundation,Patient Resources,Social Work Services Quick Guide,Social Work Manual,Cultural Competence and Congruence


Overview - Departments & Programs, UW Medical Foundation, Patient Resources, Social Work Services Quick Guide, Social Work Manual, Cultural Competence and Congruence


What is culture?

“Cultural sociologists and anthropologists define culture as the shared values, understandings, symbols, and practices of a group of people. The shared symbols are the means by which people “communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life.”

Feagin, J. R. & Feagin, C. B. (1996) Racial and Ethnic Relations (5th ed., p. 14) New Jersey, Simon & Schuster.

What is cultural competence?

"Taking into account patient's emotional, cultural, social, psychological and spiritual issues to provide patient-centered care"

Based on presentation from Shiva Bidar-Sielaff 5.16.07

Why is cultural competence important?

“Acquiring accurate knowledge about how a client perceives his or her life situation and problem within that individual’s cultural context is an essential component of problem identification and problem solving (Soniat, 1982). Culture, which encompasses the values, knowledge, and resources that people learn to see as appropriate and desirable, has a powerful influence on behavior (Greene, 1988). It establishes the parameters that guide and often limit or structure thinking and behavior (Berger and Frederico, 1982). Because cultural norms and values are group-specific, the practitioner who engages in cross-cultural communication must be particularly sensitive to social boundaries and be prepared to move beyond the present limits of his or her own personal experiences”.

Greene, R. R. & Ephross, P. H. (1991). Human Behavior Theory and Social Work Practice (p. 30). New York: Aldine De Gruyter.

On ethnic-sensitive practice in health care:

“The response to illness is in large measured governed by cherished ethnic and cultural dispositions. These affect the way people experience pain and the kind of healers to whom they turn when physical or mental illness strikes. Caring as well as curing functions are essential. Effective care requires simultaneous attention to micro and macro tasks. The ethnic–sensitive social worker must be knowledgeable about the diverse responses to illness and must call on community-based caring networks in the effort to generate a more humane health-care environment. Public health principles specify and clarify the objectives and concerns of ethnic-sensitive practice in health care.”

Devore, W. & Schleisnger, E. (1996). Ethnic-Sensitive Social Work Practice. (p. 319). Mass: Allyn & Bacon.

The Many Facets of Patients include . . .

from 5.17.07 presentation by Shiva Bidar-Sielaff