cultural competence

People in Cambodia experience what we Americans call depression. But there's no direct translation for the word "depression" in the Cambodian Khmer language. Instead, people may say thelea tdeuk ceut, which literally means "the water in my heart has fallen."

Anxious or depressed Haitians, on the other hand, may use the phrase reflechi twop, which means "thinking too much." And in parts of Nepal and India, people use the English word "tension."

Jason Eppink/Flickr

 To most patients in the U.S., the way Dr. P.J. Parmar runs his primary care clinic for refugees in Aurora, Colo. may seem strange: "When a patient walks into the clinic and has been here before...my goal is for them to walk right into the front door, walk right into my office and sit down next to me without stopping." Parmar tells Sound Medicine how he tries to make life easier for his patients, many of whom are not from the U.S. and face linguistic and cultural barriers to care.