The any patient or their family member (Committee

Importance of Communication Skills for Physical Therapists in Culturally competent


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Pratyusha Paruchuri


             Cultural competence “is a set of congruent
behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or
among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations”
as per American Physical Therapy Association on cultural competence. While the
cultural competency includes awareness, knowledge, and skills, it is also
essential to convert these constructs into appropriate communication. For
developing cultural competence and providing comprehensive health care to a
multicultural patient population, the most important component is the quality
of communication. Effective communication has been linked to reducing health
imbalances and improving patient outcomes (Sherrill & Mayo, 2014).  


The more we develop
awareness of our own behavioral preferences, and consider our reactions to
behaviors which challenge those preferences, the greater our understanding will
be of the role of culture in communication, and the less likely we are to feel annoyed
or frustrated when we encounter differences. Teaching strategies should
emphasize the critical role of good communication skills, particularly with disproportionate
groups. The positive attitudes towards communication skills training are
significantly related to confidence when communicating with the patients. It is
important that educators identify opportunities to teach improved communication
skills. Educational programs can provide students with an introduction to the
impact of communication on patient satisfaction and health outcomes.

therapists must consider, the impact culture and language have during client
interactions for providing competent care. During interactions with clients,
families and colleagues, the Physical Therapists should consider the culture
and language to provide competent care to the patients.  The health care professionals should provide
treatment regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, social status, weight,
sexual orientation, religion and language of any patient or their family member
(Committee on cultural competence, 2008). the patients who has language barrier
or any communication needs, has to be provided with competent language
assistance, both verbally and in writing to meet their needs. When the patient
and the therapist are from different cultural backgrounds, an understanding of
the patient and family values is required to provide effective care. (Hayward

research conducted by Arif, S. et all. on pharmacy students showed an increase
in understanding of and attitudes towards cross-cultural communication by
pre-lecture and post-workshop assessment. Understanding of cross-cultural
communication concepts and comfort level with providing cultural care has been
increased significantly.  They included a
real- life scenario in which the learners can observe the actions of the video
actors, reflect on the weaknesses and strengths of the interaction, and project
how they would behave and respond if facing a similar patient interaction.


The results of this pilot study indicate that
students believe that the methods used to facilitate the development of
cultural competence were useful and effective and easily translated into
service delivery.

                        Participants agreed that learning the culture
and norms of the profession requires total immersion. They unanimously noted
that they did not learn these skills in school; rather, they learned by
experience, by doing, and by being involved in all aspects of clinical practice
as suggested by Dewey.24 For these participants, learning from experience began
when they were given access to the practice environment, which also is
consistent with the works of Wenger23 and Lave and Wenger36 on apprenticeship
learning within a community of practice.


Arif, S., Cryder, B., Mazan, J., Ana, Q.,
Cyganska, A. (2017). Using patient case video vignettes

improve students’ Understanding of Cross-cultural communication. American journal of Pharmaceutical
Education, 81(3), 56A,56B,56C,56D,56E,56F,56G,56H,56I,56J,56K.

Hayward, L. M., Charrette, A. L. (2012).
Integrating cultural competence and core values: An

service-learning model. Journal of
Physical Therapy Education, 26(1), 78-90.

M. M. (2006). The Development of Communication skills, Interpersonal skills,
and a

Identity within a Community of practice. Journal
of Physical Therapy Education, 20(1), 37-46.

Romanello, M, L. (2007). Integration of
Cultural Competence in Physical Therapist Education.

of Physical Therapist education, 21(1), 33-39.

Sherrill, W., Mayo, R, M. (2014). Medical
and nursing student communication skills: preparing

treat Latino patients. Journal of
Communication in Healthcare, 7(2), 128-136. DOI: 10.1179/1753807614Y.0000000052.

Veronica, J. (2011). Cultural Competence
in Physical Therapy Education: Student perceptions on 

effectiveness of cultural competence education methodology. Journal of the national society of Allied
Health, 8(9), 31-38.
















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