Course Conception, design and execution exclusively developed by: Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD


Associate professor of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Il, and clinical core co-leader at Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center;  co-investigator at Chicago Health and Aging Project; and co-investigator, Minority Aging Research Study.                                                Email:



Program Overview:

Ethnicity and Neurological Diseases: Understanding how cultural attitudes, beliefs and practices impact the management and treatment of neurological disorders in  women and women from racially diverse patient populations


Target Audience:

neurologists, residents, medical students, health care providers, administrators


Core Competencies

Patient Care

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Medical Knowledge

Practice Based Learning

Systems Based Practice

Disclosure: Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD has nothing to disclose



Program Description

The underlying theme of this program is that a better understanding of sex/gender differences and cultural diversity in neurological disorders, will translate to improved health outcomes, and a better quality of life for persons.  The 2000 census confirmed that the US is becoming increasingly diverse. Racial/ethnic minorities make up 30 percent of the American population and are expected to increase to 40% by 2030. Along with these increases, are notable differences in the gender composition of the US population. Presently, women outnumber men in the overall population and the female to male sex ratio is known to increase with age. Thus, neurologists can expect to see an increase in women, specifically minority women patients in their practices, and addressing specific gender issues and the patient’s social and cultural background will assist them in delivering culturally competent and effective neurologic care.

This course will highlight the differences in the prevalence of neurological disorders, risk factors, assessment, and interventions among women, and will focus on differences among the various ethnic minorities that comprise the US population. Identification of the diverse values, beliefs and behaviors will be discussed to assist the neurologist in delivering quality neurologic care that meets the patient’s and their families’ social and cultural  needs.


Course Objectives:

a) Identify the differences in the prevalence, risk factors, assessment and interventions among ethnic minority women with neurologic disorders.

b) Identify and assess the impact of cultural values, beliefs and behaviors on symptom presentation, disease course and treatment options

c) Implement culturally sensitive and culturally relevant communication tools in the diagnostic and management process



Why should this proposal needs to be added to medical education and training programs?

Currently there is no curriculum for this neurologically specific information available in the Academy or in any other neurological venue.  There is a significant need for this culturally specific education curricula as hospitals and residency programs are requiring this training. The AMA and various other medical organizations have recognized the importance of this information in optimizing patient care and are already providing some general content to its members. The Academy has the potential to become the source of education on this information for neurologists.  This is a valuable advantage for Academy members.



Timeline and Sample Content

Title: Ethnicity and Neurological Diseases: Understanding how cultural attitudes, beliefs and practices impact the management and treatment of neurological disorders in racially diverse patient populations


Introduction and Overview                 [30 minutes]

a. Burden of neurological disorders in women, populations in the United States- past, present and future

b. Minority representation in each of the following disorders: Epilepsy, Stroke, Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, Headache and ALS

i. Compare and contrast possible ethnic/racial differences in disease onset, disease course, successful treatment modalities, medication interactions, morbidity and mortality in each neurological disorder

ii. Challenges regarding optimal medical management in racially diverse populations


Cultural beliefs and attitudes toward neurological disorders in women from racially diverse populations  [30 minutes]

c. Identify the belief systems in racial and ethnic minorities, that may minimize the signs and symptoms of common neurological disorders, and limit the understanding of the disease course and management

d. Discuss how past experiences, miscommunication and challenges in health care access, can ultimately limit the neurologist’s ability to deliver quality care in racially diverse populations

e. Discuss importance and incidence of homeopathic and non traditional medical treatments for neurological disorders in minority populations


Identification of potential social and behavioral barriers that impact the treatment, management and education efforts in minority populations    [30 minutes]

f. Cultural “shame”-What is it? How common is it in persons diagnosed with  neurological disorders? How does it affect the dialogue between neurologist, patient and family?

g. Identification of the various “constraints” in administering care and management of disease in racially/ethnic minorities.

i. Family and caregiving support- typical structure and roles of members

ii. Spiritual and Religious beliefs regarding the disorder, management and care

iii. Outside support systems- Use of assistance programs

iv. Financial support systems- willingness to seek and ask for assistance for medical care related to neurological disorder

Question and answer period   [20 minutes]


Copyright 2011 © Neelum T. Aggarwal, NTA Partnership, Inc. All rights and properties reserved.

Permission Granted by author to share with members of the Advancing Women’s Health Initiative. March 13, 2011



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