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Editor's Correspondence
June 28, 1999

Culture Clash

Arch Intern Med. 1999;159(12):1373-1374. doi:

In his recent commentary in the ARCHIVES, Dr Berger1 highlights important differences in our American health care system—the differences between the system's "historically dominant culture," and the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of the individuals who depend on this system for their health care. He effectively argues that health professionals must be "sensitive" or "attentive" to this culture clash, since these differences have the potential to significantly affect the care that patients receive. However, he intentionally leaves several important questions unanswered: What is "culturally sensitive care?" How will we learn to provide it? and, How will we know whether we are providing it well? Do we need to transform the dominant culture of medicine to one that more adequately reflects the communities we serve?