Aging, Culture, and Health Communication: Exploring Personal Cultural Health Beliefs and Strategies to Facilitate Cross-Cultural Communication With Older Adults

Date of Review: November, 2018

This publication, from MedEdPORTAL, is a single-session curriculum to help health professions students appreciate the diversity of health beliefs among older adults and gain communication skills to elicit these beliefs and establish a therapeutic relationship. After completing a survey about their own health beliefs, students listen to a lecture in which Kleinman’s ‘8 questions’ to elicit a patient’s explanatory model are presented along with other frameworks for culturally respectful communication. Students discuss their personal health belief survey in small groups, as they are comfortable. Videos of ideal and not-so-ideal patient encounters are then presented, followed by a role play for use in small groups. The entire activity takes 90-120 min. The slide set is well-annotated, so expertise in cultural humility would not be required. The didactic portion of the curriculum does specify common health beliefs in certain populations, which risks reinforcing stereotypes, but I believe these examples can be presented sensitively, clarifying that they do not apply to all members of those groups. The term cultural competence is used a few times in the slides, and this might be replaced with cultural humility, as 2018 terminology has changed to reflect that providers must recognize the limits of their own knowledge rather than gaining all knowledge needed about a particular culture. —Heather Heiman, MD, NCEAS

Corresponding Author’s Email:


University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Where Was the Curriculum Implemented?

Baltimore, MD

Source of the Curriculum/Resource:


Outcomes that Have Been Reported for the Curriculum:

Self-reported learner attitude

Outcome and Study Design:

Post Only

Level of Learner Assessment:

Appreciation of content/attitude assessment (self-reflection, blogging with rubric)

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