Cultural Competence Cultural Sensitivity and Culturally Effective Health Care

The term cultural competence refers to the ability to work effectively with individuals from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, or in settings where several cultures coexist. It includes the ability to understand the language, culture, and behaviors of other individuals and groups, and to make appropriate recommendations. Cultural competence exists on a continuum from incompetence to proficiency.

Cultural sensitivity, which is a necessary component of cultural competence, means that health care professionals make an effort to be aware of

Cultural competence cannot be achieved through short workshops or classes. A long-term commitment is required to learn a second language and become familiar with other cultures to deliver effective health care for the ethnically diverse U.S. population. [AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.]

Cultural competence cannot be achieved through short workshops or classes. A long-term commitment is required to learn a second language and become familiar with other cultures to deliver effective health care for the ethnically diverse U.S. population. [AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.]

diversity: the variety of cultural traditions within a larger culture pluralistic: of many different sources monocultural: from a single culture the potential and actual cultural factors that affect their interactions with a client. It also means that they are willing to design programs and materials, to implement programs, and to make recommendations that are culturally relevant and culturally specific.

The terms cultural competence and culturally effective health care are sometimes used synonymously. Culturally effective health care is, indeed, related to cultural competence and cultural sensitivity. However, it goes beyond these concepts in describing the dynamic relationship between provider and client. Effective communication between providers and clients may be even more challenging when linguistic barriers exist.

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