Culture narrowly defined is the learned or shared beliefs, values and behaviours of a group. However, concepts of culture are complex and influenced by many factors, such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, education, sexual orientation, or immigration status.
Health care professionals are expected to demonstrate cultural competency, and possess some knowledge of cultural values, beliefs and practices and practice proficient communication skills. Cultural sensitivity reflects a health care professional's awareness and respect for the patient's cultural viewpoint. Cultural concordance between health care professionals and patients and families has the potential to provide a framework of expectations about communication and complex decision-making in the setting of end of life care.
The literature reflects the disparities in end of life care for minority and vulnerable populations, with underutilisation of hospice care, higher likelihood of using life-sustaining treatment at the end of life and dying in the hospital. Most of the literature focuses on the different cultural perspectives about communication, death and end-of-life care decision-making. There is a paucity of literature about the impact of cultural concordance between health care professionals and patients/families in palliative care and end of life care.
Through several case studies, we will identify potential benefits and challenges for health care professionals who have ethnic, language or racial concordance with patients and families. Using components of effective communication strategies for advance care planning with seriously ill patients, we will add new insight for providing patient-centred, culturally effective care within a culturally diverse health care setting.
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