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Top Considerations for Culturally Competent Healthcare

Recent studies have revealed large gaps in COVID-19 recovery rates between Black and Latinx patients versus their white counterparts. Though the cause of this discrepancy is multifaceted, lack of culturally-competent healthcare is a challenge. Racial bias has been found to be a likely contributor to poorer health outcomes for people of color, but culturally competent health care is a solution.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released resources on how to achieve culturally competent healthcare. It recommends these key considerations:

  • Assess your programs needs and capacity to address cultural differences
  • When making plans to improve culturally competent healthcare, be sure you have diverse professionals around the table that reflect the community you’ll be serving.
  • Facilitate opportunities for cross-cultural interactions among both program recipients and program staff.

Additionally, the Joint Commission accredits and certifies health care organizations and programs in the United States. It requires culturally competent care as essential to the safest, highest quality, best-value health care and requires hospitals to be accountable for maintaining patient rights, which includes respect for cultural, religious and spiritual values. Healthcare professionals are responsible for not only treating diseases, but caring for a patient holistically in body, mind and spirit.

Related story: Research Roundup: Study Finds Healthy Black Children More Likely To Die After Surgery Than White Counterparts

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NBCI) recommends the following steps to achieving culturally competent healthcare.

  • Encourage family to participate in healthcare decision-making.
  • Incorporate culture-specific values into health promotion.
  • Provide cultural awareness training to staff.
  • Provide an environment that allows traditional healers if patients request them.
  • Provide interpreter services.
  • Recruit diverse staff that reflects the community you serve.

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