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Bias from Lack of Cultural & Religious Awareness in Personalized Care

Bias in Personalized Care

Personalized care is becoming increasingly important as technology advances and more treatment options are available to patients. This means that patients have more choices about how they receive care [1]. This in turn leads to better health outcomes for patients [1]. However, personalized care requires patients to be heard so they can have more control of their care. For instance, a patient’s genes, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices must be taken into account. This may make receiving care more difficult due to bias from the lack of cultural and religious awareness.

Lack of Cultural Awareness

Bias in care can exist due to assumptions made based on a patient’s cultural background. This can affect the overall patient experience due to misunderstandings. For instance, different cultures may have different social norms for how one communicates with doctors. In some cultures, it is preferred for female patients to see female doctors. This may make certain patients more hesitant to reach out for care if they are unsure whether they will find a doctor they are comfortable with. Furthermore, language barriers may also create bias in care, because sometimes patients may require their family members to communicate with them, which can make it harder for doctors to understand symptoms and past medical history. Additionally, some cultures may have non-verbal communication that comes from body language and facial gestures. Not recognizing the existence of non-verbal cues can make doctors miss out on important information related to care.

Additionally, some cultures may have power dynamics that can influence communication with providers. For instance, some cultures may have a strong respect for authority figures such as doctors. This may make it more difficult for them to voice concerns about their treatment plans. Additionally, different cultures may have different norms for the use of technology. This may impact their health literacy and their ability to understand how to adhere to their treatment plan. Furthermore, certain questions from screenings can be intrusive and culturally inappropriate towards a patient’s culture. This can make patients uncomfortable when receiving care due to the lack of cultural awareness.

Lack of Religious Awareness

Similarly, a lack of awareness of different religions can create unfair biases in care. This can include patients being unable to receive medical interventions due to their religious beliefs (for instance being unable to receive blood). This can also impact end-of-life care such as organ donation and decisions on resuscitation. Furthermore, a patient may have certain dietary restrictions and rituals that may require different treatment plans catered to their beliefs. For instance, various religions practice fasting throughout different periods. This means that providers will have to consider adjusting different factors such as medication, nutritional guidance, and even when to take blood work to accommodate patients’ religious beliefs.

Overcoming Cultural & Religious Bias

Overall, countless assumptions can be made based on a patient’s culture and religion. Precision care requires information about a patient’s lifestyle, environment, and genetics so that a personalized treatment plan can be created for each patient. Therefore, doctors need to be aware of a patient’s culture and religion since they can impact how a patient interacts and their adherence to certain care plans. Providers should receive cultural competency training so they are aware of diverse cultural backgrounds and can communicate respectfully and effectively with all patients. Additionally, healthcare staff should establish tools that allow patients to leave feedback for their providers. This can help create initiatives when cultural and religious competency needs improving. Furthermore, this can help keep bias towards certain religions and cultures in check.

Furthermore, providers and even software developers should be aware that different beliefs exist and should be inclusive of all cultures and religions. Overall, one of the most important things that healthcare professionals can do is to take the time to actively listen to their patients and ask questions. Only then can they begin to be aware of the specific needs of their patients and accommodate diverse cultures and religions.


HITS’ agency culture and mission facilitate customer/human-centered design. We tailor software and project management support products to meet our customer’s needs. Furthermore, HITS puts the “soft” in “software” development. We analyze functional requirements to ensure all needs are properly adjudicated to be included in the software. This allows clients and customers to have peace of mind that their needs are heard and acted upon. HITS also makes sure that all medical and appropriate representatives (either medical, technical, supportive, and/or administrative) are present during the High-Performance Team creation as a wide range of expertise is needed to develop the Capability Development Documents. Finally, HITS expects all staff to incorporate customer experience-related best practices and offers incentives for excellent customer experience performance and team collaboration.


  1. https://www.england.nhs.uk/personalisedcare/what-is-personalised-care/ 
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