Cultural Competence: Reflections on Patient Autonomy and Patient Good
Leever, Martin G
Nursing ethics 2011 Jul; 18(4): 560-70
Terms such as 'cultural competence' and 'transcultural nursing' have comfortably taken their place in the lexicon of health care. Their high profile is a reflection of the diversity of western societies and health care's commitment to provide care that is responsive to the values and beliefs of all who require treatment. However, the relationship between cultural competence and familiar ethical concepts such as patient autonomy has been an uneasy one. This article explores the moral foundations of cultural competence, ultimately locating them in patient autonomy and patient good. The discussion of patient good raises questions about the moral relevance of a value's rootedness in a particular culture. I argue that the moral justification for honoring cultural values has more to do with the fact that patients are strongly committed to them than it does with their cultural rootedness. Finally, I suggest an organizational approach to cultural competence that emphasizes overall organizational preparedness.
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