The Western medical community is increasingly emphasizing full truthful disclosure of cancer diagnoses or prognoses and respect for autonomy as necessary prerequisites to ethical practice.

With ethnic minorities and immigrants fast becoming the collective Canada/U.S. majority, there is a push in medical circles to be more sensitive to cultural nuances. Counseling, reassurance, and utilization of cross-culturally competent cancer care may assist in managing patients with these issues. Cross-cultural empathy is a term that has been used when caring for patients with cancer in which cultural preferences are considered.

For example, when it comes to disclosing unfavorable cancer information to a patient, these same patients of various ethnic backgrounds expressed different expectations regarding information delivery.

For example: nearly half of Korean Americans and more than half of Mexican Americans were less likely to prefer to know the diagnosis of metastatic cancer or hear the news of a terminal prognosis. On the other hand, African Americans, European Americans, Indo-Caribbean Hindu Americans, and Japanese Americans preferred full disclosure, although some groups preferred more implicit nonverbal disclosure than others. Nearly half of Bosnian Americans desired to know about their illness for practical reasons.

While this article refers to the hospital setting, we must pay attention to who our clients are in the spa/salon setting and know what their tradition’s and cultural beliefs are about this disease.  Some people may not be able to handle the truth.

For more information about the Management of Emotionally Challenging Responses of Hospitalized Patients with Cancer see:


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