The Case for Cultural Competence

The Evidence Base for Cultural and Linguistic Competency in Health Care

This report reviews the evidence base for the impact of cultural and linguistic competence in health and mental health care on health outcomes and well-being and the costs and benefits to the system. The authors conducted a structured search of Medline from January 1995 to March 2006 to identify primary research articles on health outcomes and well-being. An exploratory search of multiple databases was performed to identify evidence related to the business case. The review of the health outcomes literature indicated that the field is in the early stages of development, with the preponderance of literature defining the concepts and identifying research questions. Some promising studies support the efficacy of cultural and linguistic competence affecting health and mental health outcomes. Evidence of decreased systems costs is not currently present in the literature. The authors identify key gaps in the current literature and specific methodological and funding limitations to be addressed.

Engaging Communities to Realize the Vision of One Hundred Percent Access and Zero Health Disparities: A Culturally Competent Approach

The National Center for Cultural Competence publishes a Policy Brief series to facilitate the systematic incorporation of cultural and linguistic competence into organizational policy and structures. Policy Brief 4 is designed to provide health care organizations with the rationale for engaging communities in a culturally and linguistically competent manner. This brief provides guidance on prerequisite policies that serve as a foundation for infusing cultural and linguistic competence into community engagement.

Reducing Disparities through Culturally Competent Health Care: An Analysis of the Business Case

Finding ways to deliver high-quality health care to an increasingly diverse population is a major challenge for the American health care system. The persistence of racial and ethnic disparities in health care access, quality, and outcomes has prompted considerable interest in increasing the cultural competence of health care, both as an end in its own right and as a potential means to reduce disparities. This article reviews the potential role of cultural competence in reducing racial and ethnic health disparities, the strength of health care organizations’ current incentives to adopt cultural competence techniques, and the limitations inherent in these incentives that will need to be overcome if cultural competence techniques are to become widely adopted.

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