Cultural Considerations to Promote Effective Collaboration

We all can always work to incorporate cultural considerations in our practice – this starts with us!


Team of healthcare professionals are seated at a table discussing options for a treatment plan in a collaborative manner across disciplines and cultures.

Cultural considerations in interprofessional collaboration refer to the acknowledgment and appreciation of diverse cultural practices, beliefs, and values within a collaborative professional setting. Interprofessional collaboration cultivates teamwork and emphasizes the importance of diverse skill sets.1 It involves understanding various communication styles between individuals of different cultures to build trust and prevent misunderstandings.

Improving communication among healthcare professionals offers significant benefits for both providers and patients. Research indicates that collaboration in the healthcare setting can improve patient outcomes, reduce workloads for providers, and increase job satisfaction.2 Further, ensuring that health professionals work efficiently as a team to deliver well-coordinated care can help improve clinical decision-making and reduce diagnostic errors.3

In healthcare, understanding and respecting different cultures can impact interprofessional relationships and help improve the quality of care delivery. Collaborating effectively across cultures requires a sense of cultural humility and efforts to engage with diverse teams. Therefore, promoting cultural consideration in the workplace is important. Everyone has a responsibility to make others feel valued and accepted. Engaging in ongoing education on cultural norms, customs, and etiquette are ways to improve cross-cultural communication.4

Cultural considerations in healthcare may reference familiar buzzwords such as “cultural competence” and “cultural agility”. While these are important concepts to promote cultural inclusion amongst teams, cultural considerations are a combination of opportunities to practice cultural competencies and the creation of time and structures that allow for proper acknowledgment of cultural differences.

Cultural differences can impact how efficiently healthcare teams work together and also how effectively their patient care is delivered.5 Thus, incorporating opportunities for interprofessional teams to be exposed to cultures outside of one’s own can be extremely beneficial to both improving team functioning and improving services provided to patients. 

How can healthcare professionals work to build cultural considerations into their teams? 

Cultural education opportunities are important to providing culturally sensitive care. Exercises that engage with hypothetical patient scenarios or team-member experiences involving cultural differences can begin to bring cultural differences and approaches to effective problem-solving into conversation. An example of an exercise that can build awareness among the team is incorporating an implicit bias test followed by a discussion within the team. Many of us hold implicit biases that drive our decision-making, and being aware that we hold bias is an important introductory topic to expanding the cultural understanding of a team.

Overall, it is important to create space among interprofessional teams to discuss and engage with cultural differences in order to provide the highest quality care. We all can always work to incorporate cultural considerations in our practice – this starts with us! By exposing our teams to more cultural practices through sharing stories and experiences, we can all continue becoming better as providers. 


  1. Johnson & Johnson Nursing (2023, Sept. 10). The Importance of Interprofessional Collaboration in Healthcare. Johnson & Johnson Nursing. 
  2. Bosch, B., & Mansell, H. (2015). Interprofessional collaboration in health care: Lessons to be learned from competitive sportsCanadian Pharmacists Journal/Revue des Pharmaciens du Canada, 148(4), 176-179. 
  3. Committee on Diagnostic Error in Health Care; Board on Health Care Services; Institute of Medicine; The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Balogh EP, Miller BT, Ball JR, editors. Improving Diagnosis in Health Care. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Dec 29. 9, The Path to Improve Diagnosis and Reduce Diagnostic Error. 
  4. Betancourt, J. R., Green, A. R., & Carrillo, J. E. (2015). Cultural competence in health care: emerging frameworks and practical approaches. The Commonwealth Fund, Fund Report. October 1, 2002.
  5. School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University (2021, March 1). How to Improve Cultural Competence in Health Care. Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. 
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