Culturally Competent Care for Native Americans

Topic: Public Health
Words: 590 Pages: 2

The healthcare system in the United States continues to face a challenge in the form of diversity and inclusion in its provided services. Native Americans have experienced numerous adverse health effects from discriminatory practices and now represent a significant portion of the population susceptible to mental and physical disorders (Martin, 2013). An evidence-based plan for complex interventions is required for people in such a vulnerable position. This paper will analyze suitable strategies for promoting culturally competent care for Native Americans.

Developing a new approach to healthcare provision calls for a review of issues plaguing the selected community. Discriminations that need to be eliminated often stem from linguistic and cultural barriers, such as the lack of understanding of people’s traditions and heritage (Handtke et al., 2019). Therefore, specialists must understand the social context in which they perform their tasks. The easiest path to such a solution is to ensure a complete mutual understanding between patients and their doctors. For example, providing a Native American patient with a clinician of the same ethnicity can significantly improve their adherence to treatment (Handtke et al., 2019). However, this approach may require additional training and has only a long-term impact.

In order to promote culturally competent care in medical facilities, specific health disparities must be targeted by both local clinicians and policies. According to Jernigan et al. (2018), a multilevel approach that combines modern knowledge with “an understanding of tribal policies” can efficiently prevent a further decrease in Indians’ well-being (p. 67). Chiefs should work closely with doctors to establish areas of mutual interest and translate necessary treatments and disease prevention practices into a new cultural context.

Mental health among Native Indians also has critical deficiencies that need to be addressed. A suitable strategy for this section must incorporate the social values of the targeted communities into the modern standards of care. Behavioral changes are essential for reducing the burden of high crime and suicide rates in tribal societies (Jernigan et al., 2018). However, achieving this goal will require counseling specialists who are knowledgeable in the history of each specific community and can promote reflective thinking by appealing to traditions and spiritual practices. For example, the high rates of depression and anxiety that often lead to alcohol and drug abuse can be decreased by promoting communicating with gurus and shamans (Stebnicki, 2016). Interventions that are rooted in positive experiences have a higher chance of success.

Overcoming social problems, such as high rates of delinquency, is one of the priorities that should be addressed through culturally competent care. The mental health of individuals who are pushed to this state requires a solution rooted in their views on well-being, for which Western therapies might be unsuitable (Stebnicki, 2016). Therefore, a strategy for supporting Native Americans must include locally accepted mental exercises. Stebnicki (2016) proposes that “spiritual experiences” and “journeys of soul searching and self-discovery” can help people correct their behavior (p. 114). Such an intervention can serve as a recognition of cultural differences and encourage locals to join mental health programs.

In conclusion, culturally competent care requires policymakers and clinicians to realize the complexity of tribal communities and incorporate their traditions, beliefs, and values into treatment and prevention practices. Strategies that include local values and focus on promoting knowledge among locals on how to deal with the issues through traditional approaches of their respective cultures can have the highest impact on Native American populations. Therefore, teaching a new generation of culturally aware physicians can alleviate a significant part of the issues that tribal communities experience in healthcare.


Handtke, O., Schilgen, B., & Mösko, M. (2019). Culturally competent healthcare – A scoping review of strategies implemented in healthcare organizations and a model of culturally competent healthcare provision. PLOS ONE, 14(7), e0219971.

Jernigan, V., D’Amico, E. J., Duran, B., & Buchwald, D. (2018). Multilevel and community-level interventions with Native Americans: Challenges and opportunities. Prevention Science, 21(S1), 65-73.

Martin, F. A. (2013). American Indian and Alaskan Native mental health issues. In J. I. Ross (Ed.), American Indians at risk. ABC-CLIO.

Stebnicki, M. A. (2016). Disaster mental health counseling: Responding to trauma in a multicultural context. Springer.

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