Patient centred care - cultural safety in indigenous health

Aust Fam Physician. 2008 Dec;37(12):990-4.


Background: The terms 'cultural safety' and 'cultural competence' are used widely in indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse health contexts. They form the basis for effective patient centred care and the professional advocacy role of the general practitioner.

Objective: This article discusses the concepts of cultural safety and cultural competence. A checklist of cultural competency practice is also provided for health practitioners.

Discussion: Cultural safety is the experience of the recipient of care. It is comparable to clinical safety, allowing the patient to feel safe in health care interactions and be involved in changes to health services. It has been suggested that cultural safety training may be one mechanism to reduce disparities in indigenous health status. Cultural competence is a broader term that focuses on the capacity of the health system to improve health and wellbeing by integrating culture into the delivery of health services.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Health Services, Indigenous / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*