Developing Cultural Competence in Physical Therapy Practice
presents invaluable perspectives on specific cultural groups.
Relative to the provision of healthcare services, this text
compliments the American Physical Therapy Association’s vision
statement that physical therapists’ will “provide culturally
sensitive care distinguished by trust, respect, and an appreciation
for individual differences.”1
As stated in the introduction of the book, the purpose of this text is
to provide a framework for cultural self-exploration, information
about general cultural differences, and a selection of
cultural–specific information and considerations.
This book is written for those in the physical therapy
profession and is an excellent reference for physical therapy
students, new graduates, and seasoned physical therapist alike.
However, this text may be appropriate for use by other allied
health professions. The text utilizes meaningful exercises, case
studies, and vignettes to promote learning.
Organized into 2 parts, Part 1 includes 2 sections (Chapters
I-9) and Part 2 includes 3 sections (Chapters 10-22).
Twelve authors contributed to the book, all of whom are
physical therapist, except one who is a nurse.
Throughout the book the text introduces
self-exploration of culture throughout each chapter.
Chapters 1 and 2 introduce the study of culture and present
the Purnell Model of Cultural Competence which is used as an
Using current research supporting self-exploration of health
practitioners for providing culturally competent care, this section
offers the reader an exercise exploring the Purnell Model.
The Purnell Model for cultural competence has been classified
as theory because it includes a model and organizing framework that
can be used by all healthcare providers in various disciplines and
settings. Readers complete a
self-assessment at the end each chapter.
In Chapters 3-9, the Purnell Model inter-relates economic,
political, communication, family organization, workforce, biological
variation, nutrition, death ritual, and healthcare practice concepts
that may have an effect on a patient’s culture.
Chapters 10 through 15 present different
cultural groups with whom the provider might engage.
These chapters present African American/Black, Chinese,
Latino/Hispanic, American Indian, Middle Eastern, and Jewish
culture. Chapters 16
through 20 present other categories of culture based on special
populations such as: the
disabled, veterans, the military, poor/homeless, pediatric, and
These populations present with special needs such as:
communication barriers, biological/genetic variations,
education level, nutrition, family organization, spirituality,
disease and health conditions. These chapters address attitudes
toward those with disabilities within the cultural context of the
societal, community, individual, and family level responses to
disability. Culturally congruent strategies that can be implemented
by physical therapists are highlighted.
Strategies and Resources
Chapter 21 and 22 articulate strategies and
resources for physical therapy students, educators, and
21 lays a framework for establishing a culturally competent practice
by addressing demographic changes, meeting regulatory and
accreditation standards, improving physical therapy outcomes,
improving marketing by targeting communities of diversity,
decreasing the likelihood of malpractice claims, and considering
professional ethical standards of practice.
Chapter 22 addresses the nurturing of cultural competence
from the educator, student, or professionals perspective utilizing
workshop/unit presentation, integration into curriculum, policy,
service-learning experiences, and international immersion
Professional literature supports the concept
that physical therapists, students, and other health care
practitioners to become culturally competent, a desire to be
culturally competent must first exist.2
Cultural competence of physical therapists and
health care professionals minimizes cultural barriers to health care
and make health services more user friendly to culturally diverse
groups and subgroups, and thereby help to reduce their
disproportionate burden of poor health.
The Purnell Model does offer a good organizational framework
for each of the ethnic or cultural backgrounds addressed.
Even though the later chapters address groups or specific
population groups that physical therapists work with, the authors
make it clear that a specific and unique culture does exists within
the group for those with disabilities.
The authors have done an excellent job of challenging the
reader to explore their beliefs and attitudes.
The text engages the reader in appropriate reflection and
special studies. Visual
learners can appreciate various pictures, figures, and tables which
are clear in demonstrating key points.
As an academic coordinator of clinical education I would
strongly recommend this text to physical therapy faculty,
practitioners, and students as it highlights the importance of
considering a patient’s culture in physical therapy evaluation and
American Physical Therapy Association.
J. and Campinha-Bacote D.
A framework for providing culturally competent healthcare
services in managed care organizations. Am J of Transcultural
1999 [cited 2009 July 14]; 10 (4): [p. 290-291]. Available from: