More physicians learning about their patients’ culture

Physicians in Connecticut are trying not only to attend to their patients’ health needs but also to better understand their diverse cultures — with more than half of the physicians in the state having completed culture awareness courses.

A survey released two years ago by the Connecticut State Medical Society revealed few doctors had such training. In 2010, state legislators passed a law requiring physicians receive such training when they renew their licenses.

“The way we provide care is changing” because of the training, said Mathew Katz, the vice president of the state medical society. “This improves access and the quality of care.”

Katz was joined by about 30 other officials and top state leaders at the State Capitol to mark the impact of the law, noting that 55 percent of those physicians surveyed have taken a course in cultural awareness.

Speakers said the training reduces misunderstandings due to language barriers and improve relationships between physician and patient. When patients have poor relationships with their physicians, they may avoid seeing the doctor and wind up in an emergency room.