Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Second Advisor

James R. Bliss

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Third Advisor

Aaron Thompson

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Abstract

Racial and ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately from persistent health disparities such as heart disease, hypertension, cancer, asthma, obesity, and diabetes among others (Sullivan & Mittman, 2010). Several social inequalities influence the characteristics of minority health disparities including higher levels of poverty, insufficient education, unemployment, poor housing conditions, and lack of health insurance. However, healthcare disparities are also influential contributors to health disparities. Healthcare disparities are brought about through differences in access to or availability of quality facilities, care, and services. Given the unequal circumstances that are formed from health and healthcare disparities for minority populations, the increase in the diversity among the U.S. population poses a unique challenge for all health professions (Shaya & Gbarayor, 2006).

Research suggests that a health provider's acknowledgement of the patient's beliefs, preferences, and perspectives will positively influence the delivery of quality care, thus resulting in reducing health and healthcare inequalities. More so, every aspect of the delivery of healthcare such as patient-provider communication, delivery of health literacy, and clinical decision-making can impact the prevalence of health disparities. Data were collected from one health profession program at a coeducational, public university located in the central part of Kentucky. There were 51 first year students that participated in the study and the total population of identified first year health profession students in the selected health program was 58. Using the Framework for Individual Diversity Development, this study sought to examine the potential impact that intergroup dialogue has on the development of cultural sensibility in future healthcare providers with the ultimate goal of continuously striving for culturally competence. The analyses revealed a statistical significance in the improvement of students' understanding of how culture influences the healthcare decision-making process and the role that cultural experiences play in their own perceptions of the healthcare system.

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