Cultural Competence Test for Healthcare Providers

Rationale for Cultural Competence

Providing culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services is essential for reducing disparities in morbidity and mortality. In order for patients to be healthy, patients and providers must do the following:

  1. Patients of all racial and ethnic backgrounds must be willing and able to come for preventive and therapeutic services. Both clinical and non-clinical staff have a role in creating a comfortable environment for patients of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Patients who are uncomfortable vote with their feet by simply not returning.
  2. Clinical and non-clinical staff that have contact with patients must recognize how conscious and unconscious prejudices may affect their ability to put the patient at ease.
  3. The provider must help the patient to give a complete and accurate history so that she can make an accurate diagnosis. Diagnostic errors are made more frequently when the provider has failed to get a full history.
  4. The provider must recognize how conscious and unconscious prejudices can influence the diagnostic and treatment plan. Studies have shown that some providers may be less likely to order certain tests or particular medications for racial and ethnic minorities.
  5. The provider and patient must negotiate a treatment plan that the patient understands and in motivated to follow. The provider must set the tone for open communication so that the patient can express any concern or confusion regarding the treatment plan.
  6. The provider must ensure that the patient fully understands the treatment plan, by asking the patient to explain it in his or her own words or by having the patient actually demonstrate what must be done at home. Patients across all racial and ethnic groups often fail to take medications correctly or otherwise follow a treatment plan, but compliance is especially poor among patients with language barriers and those with limited health literacy.
  7. Clinical and non-clinical personnel must ensure that the patient receives the necessary support at home to make health-related changes in behavior. Medical advice regarding changes in diet, exercise, smoking, sexual behavior, and substance abuse is often ignored. Support services can be helpful.
  8. Clinical and non-clinical personnel must establish policies and procedures to meet the needs of patients of diverse cultural backgrounds, and those with limited English proficiency and health literacy.

Further it is essential for clinical and non-clinical staff to work together as a team, in a congenial and mutually-supportive environment that celebrates the racial and ethnic diversity of the staff. Poor teamwork and low employee morale reduces the quality of services.

Introduction to Cultural Competence in Healthcare