Hospitals tailor cancer care to address cultural differences

Cultural beliefs may cause some ethnic minorities and immigrants to avoid seeking medical care, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal examines efforts underway at some hospitals to encourage treatment. According to the director of the National Cancer Institute’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, cultural factors are a significant contributor to disparities in cancer mortality rates among ethnic and cultural groups; for example, only 71% of black women survive for five years after a cancer diagnosis, compared with 86% of white women. Treatment consent forms are often available only in English, and some families—particularly those from Chinese, Russian, or Muslim backgrounds—often do not even want sick family members to be informed of the severity of their diagnosis.

The Journal article discussed the unique cultural biases communities experience and how hospitals are changing patient care to deal with these biases.

(SOURCES: Advisory Board Daily Briefing , http://advisory.com, October 6, 2008; The Wall Street Journal , http://wsj.com, accessed October 7, 2008)