Introduction

Module Summary

Intercultural competence involves the ability to interact effectively and appropriately with people from other cultures. It is therefore an essential element to achieving more humanised healthcare systems which are underpinned by values including patient-centred care, interaction with the patient and their family based on understanding, and humane companionship which fosters genuine and empathetic engagement. This module explores the meaning of intercultural understanding and how to achieve this in healthcare settings.

Key areas covered

  • Introduction to self-categorisation theory to explore how individuals view themselves in relation to the groups to which they belong.
  • The cognitive and affective aspects of intercultural understanding.
  • The four dimensions of intercultural competence: knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviours.
  • Essential elements for achieving intercultural understanding.

Learning outcomes

  1. To understand that some form of challenge is necessary for education in intercultural competence
  2. Understand that teaching intercultural competence requires the development of critical cultural awareness.
  3. To appreciate that teaching ‘culture’ (e.g. the institutional, historical and political aspects of culture) is not enough.
  4. To understand that the development of intercultural competence requires the teaching of subjective culture, in which the focus turns to exploring alternative worldviews and cultural self-awareness.

Importance of module to healthcare delivery

In the context of our culturally diverse societies, developing healthcare systems which reflect the values of humanism require all health professionals to appreciate and practice intercultural understanding towards each other and their patients. It is only through understanding the meaning of effective intercultural communication and interaction and how to implement this in practice that healthcare can be delivered in a respectful, patient-centred manner.

Importance of module to individual healthcare professionals

For many individuals, it is their default to interact and understand others through the lens of their own culture, often leading to miscommunication or a lack of shared understanding. In a healthcare setting, a lack of intercultural understanding ultimately makes it very challenging for any connection or empathy to be established between a healthcare professional and their patient. Caring for a patient requires a holistic professional-patient relationship: a relationship which is inclusive of the patient experience and a connection between the patient and healthcare professional being established which takes place regardless of their cultural backgrounds.