UBC Graduate Research

Views and challenges experienced by oral health care providers practicing in a multicultural society : a cultural competence educational needs assessment Charbonneau, Carole


[BACKGROUND]: Canada is increasingly becoming more culturally diverse. Consequently, meeting the health care needs of a changing population has meant an examination of the impact of the current health care system on different cultural groups. Evidence indicates that certain cultural groups, such as new immigrants and refugees, Aboriginal people and people of low-economic status experience health, including oral health, disparities as well as unequal access to care. The health disparities are linked to social, economic, cultural and political inequities which also contribute to the marginalization of such populations. Improving cultural competence within the health care professions has been identified as a strategy to help reduce health disparities. A review of the literature indicates that in addition to a lack of awareness around the importance of cultural competence in health care, cultural competence has not been consistently taught in health care programs. Therefore, this project was undertaken to explore the challenges experienced by oral health care practitioners practicing in a multicultural society. [METHODS]: A one hour recorded focus group interview was conducted with a group of seven oral health practitioners to ask questions about their experiences with caring for clients of cultural backgrounds different than their own as well as what culturally competent care means to them. The conceptual framework chosen for this project was radical/critical theory through the lens of the social determinants of health. [RESULTS]: The results of the interview identified a need to increase cultural competence in oral health care practitioners. The group also identified concern for introducing bias or stereotyping when teaching about the concept of cultural competence. To avoid introducing bias, it is recommended to include cultural competence education in the informal curriculum. Additionally, a critical view of culture and multiculturalism is recommended; advocating for longer dental hygiene programs would be required to enable incorporating a critical view in the curriculum. The concept of cultural competency is quite complex; further research is required to achieve consistency in how this topic is taught and how it can be evaluated.

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