Elder Abuse/Neglect

Improving Communication with Elders of Different Cultures

Stanford School of Medicine has an interactive tutorial for improving communication with elderly patients from differing cultures. It’s free of charge and is specifically meant for clinicians. Using three scenarios/situations common to first contact with a patient, you will be given options from which to select an appropriate response. All information in the scenarios comes from either the patient’s medical chart, or from information you gather as you see the patient for this first visit. While few answers are wrong, one answer uses more cultural sensitivity and maintains issues related patient dignity more than others. Explanations with the answers will provide information related to each response. Additional information is provided in the Summary section.


1.    Recognize barriers to communication.
2.    List culturally acceptable approaches to elicit information from an older person of any ethnic background.
3.    Describe a culturally sensitive approach to interviewing that promotes shared decision-making and mutual respect between the ethnic older person and the health care provider.
4.    Identify significant cultural and historical experiences of minority older adults.
5.    Explain the effects of these experiences on the older person’s help-seeking behavior.

This is a very short tutorial, and I completed it in 5 minutes.  I honestly don’t know if there was that much new information. Seems like we could create our own tutorials and have them be a bit more comprehensive than this. Still, there were a couple issues they brought up that I hadn’t considered…definitely check out the responses to the “wrong” answers to add extra content.

If you’re really feeling it, check out their brief ethnogeriatric quiz here (I actually found it to be of more interest than the other module). Also have a look at their Communication Tool for Emergency Preparedness (PDF), a tool that “can be used by service providers when talking with ethnic elders about emergency preparedness”.