A critical reflection on the concept of cultural safety

Can J Occup Ther. 2012 Jun;79(3):151-8. doi: 10.2182/cjot.2012.79.3.4.


Background: Cultural safety broadens and transforms the discourse on culture and health inequities as experienced by diverse populations.

Purpose: To critically analyze cultural safety in terms of its clarity, simplicity, generality, accessibility, and importance.

Key issues: Whilst the clarity and generality of cultural safety remain contentious, there is emerging evidence of its capacity to promote a more critical discourse on culture, health, and health care inequities and how they are shaped by historical, political, and socioeconomic circumstances.

Implications: Cultural safety promotes a more critical and inclusive perspective of culture. As an analytical lens in occupational therapy practice and research, it has the potential to reveal and generate broader understandings of occupation and health from individuals or groups in society who are traditionally silenced or marginalized. In relation to Aboriginal peoples, it clearly situates health and health inequities within the context of their colonial, socioeconomic, and political past and present.

MeSH terms

  • Culture*
  • Humans
  • Professional-Patient Relations*