The Anchor of Culture
Several rheumatic illnesses, such as lupus, disproportionately affect women of color. Culture plays a major role in how we define, relate to, and treat illness. Culture can color a patient’s values about medicines and certain treatment modalities. The social worker on the team can often unearth this important information and explore its impacts on patient care and disease management. Often, the social work serves as the cross-cultural facilitator between team members and the patient, providing a cultural context that is extremely valuable and can affect care tremendously or derail the care plan altogether. Knowing patients’ cultural values helps the team work with them from a place of dignity and respect, acknowledging their cultural norms while integrating western scientific treatment modalities, co-creating a more realistic care plan.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2013
Social workers are an integral part of the rheumatology interdisciplinary care team. Their skill set lends itself to fostering invaluable trusted relationships with both patients and the care team, which truly fuels patient-centered care. These enduring relationships create a sacred space of trust that serves as a portal for activating patient empowerment, building resilience, optimizing communication, and cultivating self-determination, which powers patient engagement and ultimately optimizes the best patient outcome.
Jillian Rose is a social work manager at the Hospital for Special Surgery. She is a member of the ARHP Practice Committee, the Hispanic/Latino Work Group for the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Multicultural Initiative Strategic Planning Committee, and Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health’s Initiative for Eliminating Health Disparities in Lupus.
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