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What are some real world examples of managment of a culturally diverse patient?

I am a senior year dental hygiene student and am looking for help with an assignment we have.



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4 Answers

In my research I have found that a hygienist needs to be mindful of verbal and non verbal cultural variations in communication. Nonverbal communication compromise at least 70% of all communication. So the use and meaning of hand gestures, acceptable physical touching, proximity, and eye contact differ depending on cultural background and should be used with caution. For example, the “okay” sign in the U.S. means “money” in the Japanese culture, “nothing” or “zero” in France, Zimbabwe, and Argentina, and it signifies a body orifice in Eastern European cultures. The “thumbs up” sign is seen as a vulgar connotation in Iranian culture and the use of a forefinger to point is viewed as rude in Chinese culture. In Middle Eastern and African cultures the left hand is seen as unclean and never used in handshakes. So the less hand gestures you use, the better, as to not offend anyone.

 

Eye contact varies culture to culture as ell. African Americans and Hispanics tend to prefer close proximity while Asians, Middle Eastern, and individuals who practice Islam may not. Direct Eye contact in Native Americans and Chinese cultures may be seen as a sign of disrespect, while Hispanics view this as a sign of concern and attentiveness. To avoid these problems, a hygienist really needs to to observe the patients verbal and nonverbal expressions for indications of discomfort and should follow the patient’s lead in regards to eye contact and proximity. Also, many Native American cultures see the head as containing one’s soul, so patting a child on the head is seen as disrespectful.

 

Gender plays an important role as well. In Muslim cultures, woman prefer to be treated by woman healthcare providers (I have NOT found this to be true). I used to work for a Lebanese dentist who had many Arabic-speaking patients and even the woman were appalled that I was going to clean their teeth, as a white woman, and not the Arabic doctor. I was treated with much disrespect and yelled at and grabbed by the patients more times than I can count. I am no longer at that practice! I must also add that these patients didn’t even like to touch there teeth and they would act like I was hurting them when I was clearly not, they were just uncomfortable with me doing the treatment. I would stop immediately and just go get the doctor in these instances. Not a good experience as you can tell!

 

Cultural diversity also includes people with disabilities. I have many patients who are blind or deaf and read lips. Luckily, I enunciate well and just remember to always stay in the patient’s view when speaking and I’ve never had a problem. With my blind patients I just have to remember that when I clean the surfaces away from me, not to say, “turn your head towards me” as they cannot see where I am at (however I’m sure they know) but I say “turn your head to the right a bit.” Many providers will speak loudly to these patients, which is not needed, and can be seen as you think they are unintelligent. So keep the tone of your voice normal.

 

When I am working with a translator I always look at the patient when speaking even though it will be the translator who answers me. It shows true concern and builds trust when you see them as the patient and not the translator as your patient.

 

I hope this helps a bit!

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I once had a new patient who wore a Berka and full head scarf. She was ok taking it off for dental treatment once she was in the private operatory, and she asked to see a female dentist. Luckily we have 2 dentists in our office, and one is female. We take photos of our patient (full face) for the chart, and she agreed as long as she could put her head scarf and face cover back on. The cute part is with the flash from the camera, you can see her smiling through the sheer fabric.

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I talk to my patients and ask questions because I would hate to offend someone. And also because I want to learn. If there is something that they are uncomfortable with they will let me know (even though I have never had a problem) because they are comfortable enough to educate me.

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I have diverse group of patients from Autistic, Aspergers, deaf, traumatic brain injury, quadriplegic, mental retardation, blind. Also have Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Nigerian, Venezuelan and many more languages. I treat everyone like I would want to be treated. I ask questions and find out how the best way to communicate with each person. We all want to be accepted and I enjoy getting to know my patients. It is intimidating at first, but now it’s just natural. I’m scared to ask the hard questions.

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