Taking Culture Into Account When Assessing a Young Patient


This list serves as a guide when treating persons of diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Families from immigrant and ethnocultural communities often must come to an understanding of their child's psychiatric difficulties while simultaneously interacting with an unfamiliar health care system and its practitioners. This list serves as a guide when treating persons of diverse cultures and backgrounds.


■ Foster trust and collaboration in the therapeutic millieu. Pushing for immediate and detailed disclosure can result in a breakdown in communication

■ Help address and buffer the effects of discrimination and racial profiling

■ Recognize that bicultural and hybrid identities are dynamic elements that shift during child development and across generations

■ Address language barriers: Work with interpreters to help understand cultural issues

■ Avoid asking family members to interpret. This can contribute to biased assessments and introduce power imbalances in family structure

■ Be sensitive to differing ideas about what level of hyperactive-disruptive behaviors are considered unacceptable. Such differences affect decisions about what course of action should be taken

■Keep an open mind and stay informed. Child psychiatry assessments are likely to incorporate cultural, systemic, and individual assessments within a developmental model

■ Reflect on the multiplicity of cultural references to help understand and find solutions to the problem at hand

Note: Adapted from a 2010 article published in Psychiatric Times by Toby Measham, MD, Jaswant Guzder, MD, Ccile Rousseau, MD, and Lucie Nadeau, MD, titled "Cultural Considerations in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry."

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