Different Cultures Understand Medicine Differently

Relevancy Builds Trust

In this week’s guest blog “Multilingual Patient Information Guides:  Living Beyond Cancer,” MTM LinguaSoft’s Jen Horner explains “Different cultures understand illness and medicine differently, presenting information in culturally relevant terms is essential for establishing trust and comprehension.”

Connecting people to trusted breast cancer information and a community of support, ensuring no one impacted by breast cancer feels uninformed or alone is the mission of Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC,) a nonprofit organization.

LBBC  engaged MTM LinguaSoft to translate its information guide for newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer patients into Chinese, French, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

“We could not take for granted that the patients were familiar with US healthcare jargon,” Horner says.  “We drew on our network for bilingual, bi-cultural experts on women’s health in immigrant communities.  Each consultant reviewed the English source text and recommended changes to make it more relevant.”

Click to read Jen Horner’s article.

Juneteenth – America’s Other Independence Day

Patient Experience Relies on Understanding Diverse Perspectives

Americans love their Fourth of July holiday. After all, it’s America’s birthday – the day we traditionally set aside to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of a free nation where “all men are created equal.”

But for many, those hallowed words proved hollow. Hundreds of thousands of slaves throughout the young United States – especially in the South – would need to wait almost another century before their rights to equality were officially recognized.

Another View of History

On July 5, 1852, famed African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, himself a former slave, delivered an impassioned speech spelling out the irony inherent in the July 4th celebration:

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn,” Douglass said. “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim…”

It would take another 13 years, hundreds of thousands of lives, and a Civil War that tore apart the fabric of the American nation before four million African-American slaves would get their own taste of freedom.

Juneteenth – Freedom Reborn

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, military commander of the defeated Confederate state of Texas, read aloud General Order No. 3, telling the populace of Galveston that: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation of the United States, all slaves are free.”

Spontaneous celebrations among the newly freed African American population quickly erupted across the South as Juneteenth was born. African-American communities across the U.S. soon adopted Juneteenth as their own holiday, using it as an occasion for celebrating freedom with public events, picnics and church gatherings.

Understanding Leads to Compassion

Once we understand the history of Juneteenth and how it came into being, it’s easier to appreciate why many African Americans consider Juneteenth to be a day to celebrate not only the vision of freedom President Lincoln described in his 1863 Emancipation Proclamation but also the original promise of the Declaration of Independence.

Since our childhood, we’ve been told that America is a melting pot, comprised of people from all over the world, representing a multitude of religious backgrounds, races, cultures, customs, languages and lifestyles.

Healthcare providers face the everyday challenge of understanding how these differentiating factors may affect individuals’ or families’ attitudes toward illness, pain, coping and death. It is important to appreciate why these attitudes are held, because they can significantly influence their willingness to explore various treatment options. Hospice, in particular, can be an especially touchy discussion topic.

For example, according to statistics, African-Americans comprise approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but they make up only 7.6% of hospice patients. Ironically, African-Americans have a disproportionately higher rate of cancer and heart disease, which are among the top hospice diagnoses.

Researchers point out several reasons for this incongruity. As a rule, African-American families tend to be less trustful of the American healthcare system. In addition, because medical decisions tend to be made within the family, there may be a reluctance to consult with a new, unknown healthcare professional or someone outside the home. Finally, statistically speaking, African Americans tend to be especially reluctant to cease life-prolonging procedures such as tube feeding, organ donation, and palliative care in the hospice setting – because extending life is generally seen as something to be preferred.

Honoring Differences

Healthcare communicators need to recognize that their messages may be perceived very differently by diverse audiences and adjust accordingly to ensure positive patient experience.

As the U.S. healthcare system continues to evolve to one that is more population health-oriented and patient-centered, there is a growing need for healthcare providers to educate patients, families and the general public about what they can do to stay healthier, as well as the nature of specific healthcare challenges and treatment options.

Understanding their emotions, how they think, and the reasons behind these different perspectives is vital to helping patients and families make treatment decisions that are most appropriate for their individual situations.

It’s not unlike coming to appreciate the Juneteenth holiday. The better we understand the history and background of our patients, the better we can understand and honor the views and emotions that influence their decisions and actions.

-Thomas Derr

Don’t Overlook Professional Association Membership

Learn. Grow.  Test yourself

I’m a joiner.  I like belonging to things.  Clubs.  Museums.  Gardens. And, especially professional associations.

Back in the day when I worked in other people’s agencies, we were encouraged to join associations and, whether we were active or not, our annual dues were typically paid by the firm.

I was so enamored with the Philadelphia PR scene back then and I felt so lucky to have landed in it. Even as a junior pro, I made time to attend programs or work on committees and also get my work done.  I would just come in early or work late to stay on top of assignments.  Well, any one who knows me knows I’ve always liked to work in the quiet and calm of a weekend too.

Climbing a Leadership Ladder

When I was climbing the leadership ladder towards President of the Philadelphia Public Relations Association (PPRA,) I chaired the membership committee several times and was Vice President of Membership at least once.

I would call people who hadn’t renewed their membership and often hear, “my employer isn’t paying my dues next year” so I’m opting out.

What?!  I couldn’t imagine, in the spirit of advancing their own careers and networks, why these individuals wouldn’t just pick up the tab themselves.  If you don’t spend your money on that, what do you spend it on?

But then I remembered as head of my own Agency, how many employees’ dues I paid in professional associations, often disappointed that the year would come and go and that they:

  • Didn’t attend programs
  • Didn’t join committees
  • Didn’t represent our Agency in the wider community
  • Didn’t take advantage of professional growth
  • Didn’t practice or develop their leadership skills

SPRYTE was recently engaged to support a substantial international happening in Philadelphia that took place last week.  We worked with many partners and competitors, ensuring its significant success.  I knew so many of the players personally, which made delivering against the project expectations much easier.  It was so rewarding and I was thinking about how I knew these individuals all these years later. Guess how? Through PPRA.  That’s what’s called a return on investment.

The Recipe for Successful Media Coverage

Use These Three Key Ingredients to Make Your Story Newsworthy

While social media has become an increasingly popular way for people to get their news, traditional media is still considered the most trustworthy avenue for news coverage in the U.S. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual trust and credibility survey conducted by Edelman Intelligence, 65 percent of Americans trust traditional media as a go-to source for information, while only 34 percent have that trust in social media – highlighting earned media’s staying power.

Listing the Ingredients

Whether it’s a story in a local, trade or national publication, positive news coverage can help an organization enhance its reputation and build an authentic connection with its target audiences – something we at SPRYTE Communications have an endless appetite for.

Similar to cooking, there isn’t one set method for earned media that guarantees coverage. However, we’ve found that most successful campaigns include a “recipe” for newsworthy stories that uses three key ingredients: a human-interest angle, connection to the community and compelling visuals.

Following the Recipe

One recent article we placed in a local newspaper, Lumina News , on behalf of client Griswold Home Care is an excellent example of how this “recipe” can help generate successful media coverage.

In the beginning of May, the home care franchise’s Wilmington, NC office awarded a grant to local nonprofit Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM) through the Jean Griswold Foundation’s new “Griswold Gives” program. We included each ingredient in our feature news release about the grant to grab the reporter’s attention:

  • A human-interest angle – In the release, we detailed how WARM has helped low-income homeowners– many of whom are elderly and disabled – complete urgent home repairs and safety upgrades they couldn’t afford on their own. Stories about a person or organization working to solve issues that affect people’s everyday lives evoke an emotional response and keep people invested in reading more coverage – the ultimate goal for most publications.
  • A connection to the local community – In addition to how WARM helps residents in-need, we also discussed how the Foundation’s grant will help WARM provide its home repair services to the many families whose houses were destroyed by Hurricane Florence. By detailing how Griswold helped the nonprofit make an impact in the community, we made Griswold’s story more relevant for local readers and more enticing for local newspapers to cover.
  • Compelling visuals – Along with the release, we sent a photo of some key members of both organizations at the grant presentation event. Including photos or video of people in any written content helps increase the level of reader engagement and build a sense of familiarity among the organizations’ target audiences.

 Both earned media and cooking are more of an art than a science – there are many different strategies and tactics you can use to get a successful end result. However, this tried and true recipe for positive news coverage is an effective tool that can make almost any story a newsworthy one.