Spotlight on diversity

3 tips to better serve your Hispanic patients

Hispanic DOs share advice on how DOs can improve their treatment of Latino patients.


Currently, 17% of Americans are Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census, which predicts that nearly a third of the nation’s population will be Hispanic by 2060. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released its first comprehensive national report on Hispanic health.

With this rate of growth, physicians can expect to treat more and more Hispanic patients in the coming years. To better serve this patient population, Hispanic DOs offer these tips.

1. Show an interest in your patients’ heritage and culture.

“If you recognize where your patients came from, how they grew up and what their family life is like, you can build a strong relationship with them,” says Rebeccah Rodriguez, DO, a family medicine sports physician in San Diego. “Then, they will trust your medical care.”

2. Develop a rudimentary understanding of Hispanic cultures and diets.

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“The Mexican diet consists of a lot of pork and beans and tortillas and fried foods, which obviously has an impact on diabetes and obesity,” says Mexican-American John K. Lynch, DO, a staff clinician with the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“I frequently tell my patients that they need to change their lifestyle,” says Dr. Lynch. “We typically recommend transitioning to a Mediterranean diet.”

3. Understand the important role families play in most Hispanic communities.

“It is essential to discuss treatment decisions with families,” Dr. Lynch says. “If I have a patient who is noncompliant, I usually try to incorporate the family into the discussion so they understand the disease and can help motivate the patient to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.”

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