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Barriers to Collecting a Health History

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A culturally competent care is one that can offer care to the patients with diverse values, behaviors, and beliefs. It is achieved through the tailoring of the health care delivery to meet the needs of the patients based on their social, linguistic and cultural needs. The objective can be achieved through an analysis of the patient’s past experiences, that is, the clinical history of the patient. Understanding the health history of the patient offers vital insights in providing a culturally competent care. A comprehensive health history of the patient allows the health care provider to learn about the previous care if any, and what worked well (Cuevas, O’Brien & Saha, 2017). However, the hindrance to achieving such an objective are factors such as health literacy gap and language barriers.

Culturally competent care which is as a result of studying the patient’s history is beneficial to both the community and the health care providers. It has social benefits, health benefits, and business benefits. A culturally competent care increases trust, reduces care disparities and improves the efficiency of the care services (Health Research & Educational Trust, 2013). It is, however, not fully achieved due to some specific barriers.

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Health literacy gap is a major obstacle to achieving a culturally competent care. For instance, most of the patients would visit the health care facility but would not be in a position to fully explain what they have had in the past and what they feel at the moment. Some patients may misuse clinical terms in trying to tell about their history, hence leading to medication errors (Rising, 2017). Furthermore, some patients may not be in a position to talk in English hence causing a barrier in understanding their problems.

The language barrier is also a major concern in trying to achieve the culturally competent care. In most of the medical facilities situated in the rural areas, some of the patients may not be in a position to express their history or their previous illness experiences. The help of an interpreter may assist in understanding them. However, the error always occurs as the interpreter may not be in a position to fully explain what the patient intended to say.


In summary, therefore, culturally competent care is crucial in the provision of an efficient care though there are some barriers such as language and literacy. Language barrier hinders an understanding between the health care provider and the patient. Likewise, health literacy gap also hinders understanding.

1. Cuevas, A. G., O’Brien, K., & Saha, S. (2017). What is the key to culturally competent care: Reducing bias or cultural tailoring?. Psychology & Health, 32(4), 493-507.

2. Health Research & Educational Trust. (2013, June). Becoming a Culturally competent health care organization. Chicago, IL: Illinois. Health Research & Educational Trust Accessed at http://www.hpoe.org/resources/ahahret-guides/1395

3. Rising, M. L. (2017). Truth telling as an element of culturally competent care at end of life. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 28(1), 48-55.

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