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In today's multicultural society, assuring quality health care for all persons requires that physicians understand how each patient's sociocultural background affects his or her health beliefs and behaviors. Cross-cultural curricula have been developed to address these issues but are not widely used in medical education. Many curricula take a categorical and potentially stereotypic approach to "cultural competence" that weds patients of certain cultures to a set of specific, unifying characteristics. In addition, curricula frequently overlook the importance of social factors on the cross-cultural encounter. This paper discusses a patient-based cross-cultural curriculum for residents and medical students that teaches a framework for analysis of the individual patient's social context and cultural health beliefs and behaviors. The curriculum consists of five thematic units taught in four 2-hour sessions. The goal is to help physicians avoid cultural generalizations while improving their ability to understand, communicate with, and care for patients from diverse backgrounds. (Authors)
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services