Reducing Health Disparities: The Role of Cultural and Linguistic Competence

2/20/2012 12:00 AM

From University of Virginia Medical Center Hour: P. Preston Reynolds M.D. Ph.D. (Professor, Internal Medicine, University of Virginia) presented an historical context for racism seen in medical education, United States hospitals, and with the medicare system. Tawara D. Goode, M.A. (Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director, National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. ) highlighted differences in reducing disparities in healthcare versus general health via cultural and linguistic competencies. Ms. Goode stressed definitional awareness for related terms such as health inequities and presented a model under development at Georgetown University which incorporates self-assessments and provider knowledge and skills. Jonathon D. Truwit, M.D. M.B.A. (E. Cato Drash Professor and Chief, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine; Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs; and Chief Medical Officer, University of Virginia Health System, University of Virginia) addressed two questions: where are we (i.e. the University of Virginia Health System) on this journey to cultural competence and what changes in attitudes and behaviors have we made and need to continue to make to eliminate the disparity gap. M. Norman Oliver, M.D. M.A. (Spencer P. Bass Twenty-First Century Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences and Anthropology; Director, Center on Health Disparities; and Associate Dean for Diversity, University of Virginia) closed the panel discussion by focusing on racial stereotyping and the effects of unconscious biases in attitudes and behaviors. Dr. Oliver cited examples from the US Katrina disaster the recent disaster in Haiti. The benefits of self-assessments for determining hidden/unconscious biases was emphasized in conjunction with reference to the Harvard IAT (Implicit Association Test) Project, featuring Brian Nosek (Ph.D. Department of Psychology, University of Virginia) as one of its developers.