Speaker, Author and Professor
of Ethics, Intercultural Ethics,
Medical Ethics & Asian Philosophy

Cultural Fault Lines in Healthcare: Reflections on Cultural Competency

(Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, 2012)

Back Cover

An invaluable work especially for professionals and students in health care, bioethics, humanities, cultural studies, and for the educated lay reader, this volume offers a critical reflection on cultural competence and awareness in health care, an arena where world views and values often collide.


“Michael Brannigan astutely and carefully dissects challenges of intercultural exchange, especially in the extremely sensitive milieu of individual and societal relationships. Few, if any, bioethicists are so well qualified by personal and professional experience to define the nature of the fault lines and the means for their alleviation. This book is a solid and sober source of help in both personal and societal encounters where cultural literacy and competence are necessary. Brannigan’s insights will benefit society and the persons who engage each other in health care decisions and policies.”

Edmund D. Pellegrino, Georgetown University Medical Center

“This book provides an opportunity for students and health care practitioners to reflect upon the philosophical meaning of “cultural competency.” Using examples/scenarios from different cultures, Brannigan (College of Saint Rose) offers insights as a bioethicist on how to unveil the essence of cultural competency through the cultivation of presence. This intriguing work is important because American society consists of at least 66 diverse racial and ethnic groups with multiple values and worldviews. When members of diverse groups access the Western biomedical health care system, multiple clashes and conflicts can occur. To bridge these differences in cross-cultural communication, Brannigan offers insight from his work with multicultural patients and their families and caregivers. Chapter 1 discusses the challenges of colliding worldviews in pluralistic American society and health care. Chapter 2 defines cultural competency, and three critical values to understand culture: space, time, and modes of communication…A valuable resource for students and health care practitioners interested in the subject of cultural competency. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”


“This is a book about the nature of ‘cultural competency,’ its vital significance in healthcare, and the social and cultural barriers to achieving it that exist both in the process of American medical education and in the American system of health care delivery. It has a meta-message about what Brannigan regards as ‘the virtue of presence’ —how health professionals ideally should relate to, and communicate with patients and their families.”

Renee C. Fox,
Annenberg Professor Emerita of the Social Sciences, University of Pennsylvania