“Stepping up to the plate”: Identifying cultural competencies when providing health care to Canada’s military and Veteran families
Aiken, Alice B.
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Military family life is characterized by frequent relocations, regular periods of separation, and living with the persistent risk of injury or death of their military family member. The cumulative effects of these life events impact the health and wellness of military and Veteran families (MVFs) and may be exacerbated by challenges of accessing and navigating new health care systems when families relocate or when confronted with health care providers (HCPs) unaware of their experiences. Developing cultural competency in HCPs has been found to be beneficial to both the service provider and the ser vice user. The purpose of this study is to identif y cultural competencies for HCPs who work with MVFs. Methods: We completed a qualitative study using critical incident one-on-one inter views with HCPs. We used framework analysis for data analysis. Results: In total, we completed nine inter views with HCPs who have experience working with MVFs. Cultural competencies were identified in the domains of cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, cultural knowledge, and cultural skills. Evidence also indicates the role of the ecological context on the ability of HCPs to be culturally competent. Discussion: Necessary competencies have been identified when providing culturally competent care to MVFs. The results highlight the need for MVF cultural competency training during pre-service health professional curricula and continuing education. We have acknowledged the need for policy and regulatory changes to facilitate the access and utilization of culturally informed health care. Finally, the cultural competencies identified will contribute to the development of an MVF cultural competency model for HCPs working in Canada.