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SPECIAL REPORT
Cultural Competency Among Physicians in Patient Care

Written By Healthgrades Editorial Staff on October 28, 2022
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_1-Cover
    As part of its mission to help all individuals connect with the right healthcare professional, Healthgrades sought the input of the physician community on the concept of cultural competency in patient care.

    This report details how confident physicians feel about their ability to provide the best possible care to all patients, regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, cultural practices, health literacy, and language.

    What we found is not unexpected. There is a generational divide among physicians with regard to whether cultural competency plays a role in their patient interactions, as well as their appetite for additional training on the topic.

    Please use the arrows on the images to click through to read the full report.
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_3
    We asked physicians whether any aspect of a patient’s personal identity, including language and health literacy, may hinder them from providing the best possible care. Over half of physicians indicated there are no issues that negatively impact their ability to care for their patients.

    Among physicians who do acknowledge that a patient’s personal identity can hinder their ability to provide optimal care, language and health literacy are cited as the top two issues. Notably, only 2-3% of physicians report that the sexual orientation, gender identity, or racial background of their patients impact their ability to provide the best care.

    In a separate survey, we asked consumers whether any of the issues noted above had prevented them from receiving the best possible care from the doctor they see most often. A slightly higher percentage of patients reported that issues surrounding cultural competency had an impact on their care.

    Notably, a divergence in responses appears based on the racial identity of the patients. Only 5% of white respondents indicated they have received less than optimal care. However, 10% of non-white respondents said that is the case.
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_4-800x447
    Physicians overwhelmingly (87%) rate their readiness to care for patients of different cultural or racial backgrounds as good, very good, or excellent.

    For the most part, patients agree that their doctors are well equipped to treat all patients regardless of background. However, their responses are slightly less enthusiastic than those of doctors.

    Nearly 8 in 10 white respondents (79%) rated their doctor’s readiness to treat patients of different cultural or racial backgrounds as excellent or very good. Only 68% of non-white respondents did the same.

  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_5-800x447
    Doctors are nearly as confident in their ability to care for patients of different gender identities or sexual preferences as they are in their ability to care for patients of different cultural or racial backgrounds.

    A robust 85% of physicians rate their ability to care for patients of different gender identities or sexual preferences as excellent or very good.

  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_6-800x447
    However, three in 10 physicians (31%) do agree that their level of competency can impact their ability to provide optimal patient care somewhat or a lot. This is perhaps a sign that a segment of physicians are recognizing that issues surrounding race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ethnicity or cultural preferences can have a meaningful impact on the physician-patient relationship.

    More than half (54%) of physicians say their level of cultural competency has not much or no impact on their ability to provide the best possible care to their patients.
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_9-800x447
    When looking at responses to the same question by years of practice, a generational divide emerges. Younger doctors with less than 10 years of practice are much more likely to respond that cultural competency can affect patient care “somewhat” or “a lot” than doctors with more than 20 years of practice.

    This data can be interpreted in various ways. It is possible that younger doctors are more sensitive to issues surrounding cultural competency. It is also possible that older doctors who have treated more patients over a longer period have greater confidence in their ability to interact with patients of all backgrounds.
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_10-Training-800x447
    Our survey asked physician respondents about their interest in additional training on cultural competency in patient care.

    We also asked consumers whether they feel their doctors need additional training on any of these topics.
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_11-800x447
    Roughly one in four physicians have an interest in additional training that would better equip them to care for patients of different gender, sexual, racial or cultural identities.

    The generational divide is even stronger on appetite for additional training. Two in five (40%) younger physicians with less than 10 years of practice are interested in additional training. Only one in five (20%) of older doctors with more than 20 years of practice express interest in cultural competency training.

    When asking whether the doctor they see most often needs additional training, patients answers align with that of physicians. Overall, one in four patients (25%) state their doctor could benefit from additional training. However, answers diverge a bit when looking at race. Fewer than two in 10 white respondents (18%) indicate their doctors could benefit from cultural competency training. That number jumps to three in 10 non-white respondents (29%).
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_12-800x447
    Among those who indicated an interest in additional training on cultural competency, physicians overwhelmingly prefer online continuing medical education (CME) as a format.

    Takeaways

    There is a lot to feel good about as a physician from this survey. The majority of doctors are confident in their ability to treat all patients regardless of cultural background, language, sexual orientation, and health literacy. And for the most part, patients agree.

    Younger physicians appear to be more in tune with the role various aspects of cultural competency can play in patient care. Not surprisingly, non-white patients feel the same.

    Additional training, in online CME format, has the potential to reach many physicians to help them better understand patient sensitivities and improve upon an already strong ability to provide optimal care.
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_13-Demographics-800x447
    Healthgrades Survey Sample Demographics
    The Healthgrades survey sample was very similar to the demographics of all U.S. physicians, as outlined in the following slides.
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_14-800x447
    Healthgrades Survey Sample Demographics
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_15-800x447
    Healthgrades Survey Sample Demographics
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_16-800x447
    Healthgrades Survey Sample Demographics
  • HG-Cultural-Competency-Report-Final_17-methodology-800x447
Cultural Competency Among Physicians in Patient Care
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