Is the Front Line Prepared for the Changing Faces of Patients? Predictors of Cross-Cultural Preparedness Among Clinical Nurses and Resident Physicians in Lausanne, Switzerland

Alejandra Casillas, Sophie Paroz, Alexander R Green, Hans Wolff, Orest Weber, Florence Faucherre, Françoise Ninane, Patrick Bodenmann
Teaching and Learning in Medicine 2015, 27 (4): 379-86

UNLABELLED: PHENOMENON: Assuring quality medical care for all persons requires that healthcare providers understand how sociocultural factors affect a patient's health beliefs/behaviors. Switzerland's changing demographics highlight the importance of provider cross-cultural preparedness for all patients-especially those at risk for social/health precarity. We evaluated healthcare provider cross-cultural preparedness for commonly encountered vulnerable patient profiles.

APPROACH: A survey on cross-cultural care was mailed to Lausanne University hospital's "front-line healthcare providers": clinical nurses and resident physicians at our institution. Preparedness items asked "How prepared do you feel to care for … ?" (referring to example patient profiles) on an ascending 5-point Likert scale. We examined proportions of "4 - well/5 - very well prepared" and the mean composite score for preparedness. We used linear regression to examine the adjusted effect of demographics, work context, cultural-competence training, and cross-cultural care problem awareness, on preparedness.

FINDINGS: Of 885 questionnaires, 368 (41.2%) were returned: 124 (33.6%) physicians and 244 (66.4%) nurses. Mean preparedness composite was 3.30 (SD = 0.70), with the lowest proportion of healthcare providers feeling prepared for patients "whose religious beliefs affect treatment" (22%). After adjustment, working in a sensitized department (β = 0.21, p = .01), training on the history/culture of a specific group (β = 0.25, p = .03), and awareness regarding (a) a lack of practical experience caring for diverse populations (β = 0.25, p = .004) and (b) inadequate cross-cultural training (β = 0.18, p = .04) were associated with higher preparedness. Speaking French as a dominant language and physician role (vs. nurse) were negatively associated with preparedness (β = -0.26, p = .01; β = -0.22, p = .01). INSIGHTS: The state of cross-cultural care preparedness among Lausanne's front-line healthcare providers leaves room for improvement. Our study points toward institutional strategies to improve preparedness: notably, making sure departments are sensitized to cross-cultural care resources and increasing provider diversity to reflect the changing Swiss demographic.

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