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Aliza Ben-Zacharia: Understanding Cultural Backgrounds Key to Efficient Care for Patients with MS

Understanding the cultural backgrounds and beliefs of patients with MS allows clinicians to provide effective care, said Aliza Ben-Zacharia, DNP, ANP, associate director at the Center for Nursing Research and Innovation at Mount Sinai.


Understanding the cultural backgrounds and beliefs of patients with MS allows clinicians to provide effective care, said Aliza Ben-Zacharia, DNP, ANP, associate director at the Center for Nursing Research and Innovation at Mount Sinai.

Transcript

Why is it important that patients with multiple sclerosis receive culturally competent care for their disease?

When we think about culturally competent–because there are differences in clinical presentation among patients with MS–different in severity of illness, difference in their response to different treatments. So, we need to understand and know, first, the cultural differences among all ethnic backgrounds–Caucasian, African American, Asian, and Hispanic-Latino–important to know that distinction. We as clinicians need to know that there are differences–difference values for patients, different beliefs of patients. I look at my city and my area of practice in New York City, which is highly prevalent in different cultural backgrounds. It’s important for me as a clinician to recognize their language–to recognize their custom moreso, not so much their language, but their appearance, their customs, how they even say hello, what do they understand about the acuteness of the illness, what’s their response to if I showed them an MRI. I think people are different, people have their unique experience, people have their unique culture, and they may respond differently to different things. Someone will be devastated, and someone will take it as face-value if they have remarkable religious belief and say this is my fate and I’m going to fight it or I’m going to have the support and resources. So, I think as clinicians we need, number 1, to recognize that there are differences between people. We need to know their culture, we need to know their values and beliefs, and then we need to know the differences between their clinical and progression of illness based on their genetics, based on their cultural backgrounds. So, I think it’s not all fingers are alike, we always say that, and I think you have to distinguish between the different people that are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

 
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