Heather Zacker on How Cultural Awareness Can Enhance Diabetes Care

March 14, 2017

When caring for patients with diabetes, it’s important for providers to take into account the patient’s culture and how it can affect communication styles and treatment preferences, according to Heather Zacker, MS, senior director of Care Alliances of Joslin Innovation at Joslin Diabetes Center.

When caring for patients with diabetes, it’s important for providers to take into account the patient’s culture and how it can affect communication styles and treatment preferences, according to Heather Zacker, MS, senior director of Care Alliances of Joslin Innovation at Joslin Diabetes Center.

Transcript (slightly modified)

How do you get patients, caregivers, and providers all on the same page when providing care for patients with diabetes?

I’ll tell just a little story. At the Joslin Diabetes Center where I work, we have a Latino diabetes initiative, we have an Asian American diabetes initiative, and if you contrast those 2, so, the Latino initiative, group medical appointments work beautifully. Culturally there’s a real predisposition to be very open about challenges, to not feel stigmatized, and go salsa dancing and things like that. In the Asian initiative, group medical visits wouldn’t work. The families and the patients, as a rule, of course there are always exceptions, but culturally tend to be more private, tend to feel more discomfort sharing their problems or sharing the issues.

So, if you look at that dichotomy between what needs to happen and what the culture sets people up to do, that’s gonna help you do a better job at really figuring out when do you include the families, when do you include the communities, when and how do you bring school nurses into the equation, when do you work with the local pharmacy.