Cultural Diversity: Major Issue in Health Care Delivery


Cultural diversity is the state whereby people differ in culture, ethnicity, and race. People may live together but differ in one of these and this is what is termed as cultural diversity. Cultural diversity has great influence on health care today. People still hold on to their culture, beliefs, and values. This can affect the health practices and also adherence to medical treatment. Culture dictates the life style of people and this can in turn dictate whether they will be willing to adapt modern medicine and do away with the traditional health practices. Social cultural factors such as religion, beliefs, value, culture and, ethnicity affects promotion of health and health care seeking behaviours. This also affects people’s access to health services. The community should be encouraged to embrace the modern health care. They should be well informed on health care. Health care providers need to adapt to different beliefs and cultural practices. This requires flexibility and respect to other people beliefs. This paper will look at the cultural diversity as an issue to provision of health care services.

Effects of cultural diversity on health care

Health promotion

Culture is passed on from the elders and it affects all people irrespective of gender or age and in such it affects health promotion. Great immigration has contributed to culture diversity (Louise et al, 2008). This makes it hard for the professionals to offer their services effectively. Stereotyping and partiality interferes with cultural diversity. Medical practitioners should appreciate other people’s culture. With this they are able to offer holistic health care that meets physical, mental, and social needs. The aspect of cultural diversity can be well understood by regarding each individual as unique (Darryl, 1995). Culture can affect health promotion in terms of accessibility for people may not access health care because of their beliefs and values.

Communication in health care

Cultural diversity affects even communication in health care. Factors that affect communication in health care include beliefs and values. Service providers should embrace cultural diversity in order to be able to offer services. If the care giver is not aware of cultural diversity, it is impossible to communicate effectively. Care givers should be competent in the knowledge of culture. This is because people in every culture have their beliefs and values. In a place where there is multiculturalism it may be difficult to communicate (Dickson, Hargie & Morrow, 1996). This calls for care givers to be well informed when it comes to the culture of people they are serving. People perception and understanding of health and health care process is developed through their culture and social values. Peoples’ thinking on health and social care is based on their beliefs and values. In the United States health and social care providers are socialized into the culture of their profession. They are trained in the western scientific or biomedical globe view (Argyle, 1994). This teaches the professional to hold and accept beliefs, norms, and values. This is good because the care givers who know their culture can also appreciate other people’s culture. The more a care giver knows of their culture the more they can accept the patients’ world view. Beliefs of people can affect their compliance with treatment, thus a health care giver should always be able to understand the beliefs of a patient for the service provided to be useful. The care giver should respect the patients’ beliefs and not dismiss their traditional practices. Some beliefs can make a patient lose trust on the care provider thus losing cooperation needed for successful healing and therapeutic relationship. For example, beliefs on herbal medicine may make a patient fail to comply with treatment given. Social and cultural differences are a challenge that if not taken seriously can affect clinical interaction.

Health seeking behaviours

Culture dictates how the patients respond to health care providers and how they seek medical care. Some people have strong beliefs towards traditional medicine. They prefer to try traditional herbals and come to seek medical care when it is too late. The herbs may even have caused great damage to the body. The health provider should be patient with this kind of patients in order to help them. The care provider should try to get information like the kinds of herbs the patient has been using and for how long the patient has been using them. The care provider should show that they are concerned and are willing to assist the patient and they should not rebuke them. With this the patient can educate his people and advice them to adopt medical treatment. The health care provider should be able to understand cultural differences in order to offer effective medical care (Darryl, 1995).


Cultural diversity affects the delivery of health care services. This can be as a result of culture affecting the health seeking behaviours of people and promotion of health care. People tend to consult their traditional herbalists and come for medical care when it is too late and there is much damage to the body. Culture also affects communication between the patient and care provider; this cause misunderstanding. The patient may fail to understand the doctor and the doctor might also not understand the patient. This may lead to the patient not adhering to treatment given. This results in ineffective health care service. Health care providers should work towards understanding cultural diversity in order to offer their services effectively. They should treat all patients with equality regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion or their culture. They should embrace their culture in order to be able to appreciate other people’s culture. They should also adapt to service delivery to communities full of cultural diversity.


  • Health care providers should learn to accept other people’s culture. They should do this by first embracing their culture.
  • They should treat each patient as a unique individual. Care providers should not discriminate patients due to their race, culture, ethnicity or religion.
  • Care providers should follow legislation, charters and codes that are set to ensure all patients get services as required and all treated equally.
  • Care providers should try to understand all the cultural practices that might hinder delivery and promotion of health care.
  • They should come up with strategies to solve all the problems that come as a result of cultural diversity.

Reference List

Argyle, M. (1994). The Psychology of Interpersonal Behaviour, 5th Edition. New York Penguin, ISBN: 0140172742

Clarke, L. (2002). Health and Social Care GCSE. London: Nelson Thornes, ISBN 9780748770724

Darryl W, (1995). Cultural Diversity and Geriatric Care; Challenges to Health Profession. London: Rouledge.

Dickson DA, Hargie O and Morrow, (1996). Communication Skills Training for Health. London: OUP

Louise S et al, (2008).Diversified Health Occupations. London: Cangage learning.

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