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Health Agencies Update
December 15, 1999

Cultural Barriers to Care

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JAMA. 1999;282(23):2201. doi:10.1001/jama.282.23.2201-JHA90010-2-1

"Culturally competent" services that respect all traditions and cultures may help reduce the troubling differences in the health status of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States compared with that of whites, according to a new publication from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

An understanding of the health-related beliefs, attitudes, and practices of people of different cultures can help break down cultural and linguistic barriers, as well as improve services, increase community participation, and close gaps in health status, says the report. It describes a number of strategies that health care organizations and professionals can adopt—such as providing language- and culture-appropriate signs and artwork—to encourage racial and ethnic minorities to seek quality primary and preventive health care.

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