Cultural competence is a relatively recent term describing appropriate ways of working with increasingly diverse cultures in society including Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. It means more than understanding different cultures or awareness of social difference, but rather, it is a dynamic process of shared responsibility.
For his qualitative doctoral thesis entitled Investigating Culturally Competent Reflective Practice in Diabetes Healthcare, Dr Abraham interviewed diabetes educators to investigate the interface of the western-oriented “voice of medicine” with different cultures and systems of belief. For treatment to be effective, it was found that when communicating to patients, consideration of a shift in power relations from the “expert” practitioner to a more reflective stance, was argued to have a positive effect on levels of adherence to diabetes management.
It was also found, through a reflective and holistic, patient-centred orientation, practitioners “challenged the status quo” of Western scientific ideology and described ‘bridging the gap” between evidence based practice and actual practice. Aristotle’s rarely discussed concept of phronesis was useful in the development of Dr Abraham’s Culturally Competent Reflective Practice model. Currently, Dr Abraham is in private practice as a clinical psychologist in Melbourne.