The Effect of Culture on Diagnoses, Treatment Recommendations and Outcomes

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Research indicates that even when patient access to care is equal, dissimilarities between the physician’s and patient’s race, gender, class, or ethnicity can produce disparities in patient health care outcomes. The cultural differences between patients and physicians can negatively affect diagnoses, treatment recommendations, and ultimately outcomes. Further, patient expectations and physician impressions during clinical encounters can adversely affect the patient’s long-term wellbeing. Prodding from advocacy groups coupled with the fragile state of the health care infrastructure have motivated hospitals and medical schools to explore ways to minimize cross-cultural conflicts that can influence patient care and treatment. Social identity theory provides insight into how cultural socialization fosters stereotyping and discrimination in humans when they perceive that differences exist. This theory proposes that group identification tends to create in-groups and out-groups where group membership is biased toward those who think, act, and look like themselves and negatively discriminates against those who are perceived as different. The basis for favoring or discriminating is often made on generalized preconceived assumptions and expectations about others that may or may not be true. This presentation examines case studies, which are the predominate pedagogic strategy that medical schools use to teach about culture, and the role they play in perpetuating stereotyping and misdiagnoses. While case studies, as a teaching approach is valuable, the findings revealed that oftentimes cases are written stereotypically and occasionally portray some groups negatively. Therefore, teaching methodology can reinforce negative beliefs about other groups and ultimately affect the actual relationship and communication between patients and physicians.


Keywords: Cross-Cultural, Medical Education, Diversity, Social Identity Theory, Patient Care, Patient Outcomes, Diverse Patient Populations, Stereotyping
Stream: Disability, Health
Presentation Type: 60 minute Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Madison L. Gates

Senior Staff Associate and Doctoral Candidate, Department of Family and Community Medicine &
College of Education, University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Madison Gates is currently a Doctoral candidate in the College of Education and a Senior Staff Associate in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. He co-developed and conducted research projects that address the healthcare needs of offenders, implemented and facilitates the Kentucky Department of Corrections Electronic Health Records System, serves as liaison among Kentucky’s corrections Health Services Network and develops and disseminates educational materials and project activities. Previously, he coordinated and co-planned the integration of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) curriculum grant designed to expose medical students, residents, and physicians to non-allopathic practices, co-developed and facilitated curriculum integration and faculty development programs. He has made several peer-reviewed presentations on culture, education and healthcare. Gates has been the recipient of the prestigious Lyman T. Johnson Associate Fellowship and the Holmes Scholars Scholarship. He is a member of numerous professional organizations including: Department of Family and Community Medicine, six-year Review Clinic and Administrative and Education Committees, Kentucky Corrections Health Services Network as Associate Research Director, facilitator of the Kentucky Department of Corrections Electronic Health Records Team and on the Executive and Advisory committees of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Dr. Elinor L. Brown

Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
College of Education, University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Associate Professor, Elinor L. Brown earned her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Akron (UA) in 1998. She is internationally recognized in equity and social justice education through her: series co-editorship of International Advances in Education, Equity, and Social Justice Research published by Information Age Publishing, publications in distinguished national and international refereed journals, numerous national and international refereed presentations, invited international workshops on equity in education; and for conceptualizing, implementing and hosting an international conference for scholars from 10 nations across Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, East Asia and Africa. She currently teaches graduate courses in multicultural education, teacher preparation, foundations of education, and cross-cultural education research. Her commitment to teaching, research and service is evidenced by four awards received through student nominations as a Teacher Who Made a Difference; a university of Kentucky Outstanding Service Award ; and nominations by peers for an American Educational Research Association’s Early Career Award, University of Kentucky’s Teacher of the Year Award and University of Kentucky’s President’s Award for Diversity. Her research interests focus on the development of equitable education opportunities to maximize productive non-exploitive 21st century global citizenship and influencing the cross-cultural perceptions and behaviors of future teachers.

Ref: D08P0346