Cultural Competency

Provider cultural competency is defined as the ability of providers to effectively deliver health care services that meet the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of patients.  

Training: Cultural Competency and Americans with Disability Act

This training discusses why cultural competency and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements are important to care providers, including information on:

Impact of these requirements on care providers

  • Cultural competency overview
  • ADA overview
  • Provider's role in complying with these requirements

Continuing Education for Cultural Competency from the Office of Minority Health

The changing demographics of our country create new challenges for the provision of care. You may see that change happening in your own community.

UnitedHealthcare wants you to know about the resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Minority Health, including a variety of cultural competency education modules for providers.

What Cultural Competency Means to Patient Care

Research has established that socio-cultural differences between patients and health care professionals influence many aspects of the medical encounter that can impact patient satisfaction, adherence, and health outcomes. 

  • Patients respond better when care instructions are delivered in their own language and their cultural background is taken into account. 
  • Knowledge of, and sensitivity to, cultural issues can impact the way patients share their medical needs, and how physicians and nurses can enhance communication, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • For all patients, awareness of cultural subtleties by physicians and other health professionals can help improve patient care. 

Cultural education for health care professionals is an important component of improving the quality of care delivered to diverse patient populations and can help in addressing racial/ethnic disparities in health care.  

Cultural Competency Online Resources

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

This resource site offers two guides for defining cultural needs in managed care and developing appropriate services for them:

Other Resources

  • American Indian and Alaska Native Culture Card: The culture card enhances cultural competence when serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities. It covers regional differences, cultural customs, spirituality, communication styles, the role of veterans and older adults, and health disparities.
  • Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC): The NCCCC contributes to the body of knowledge on cultural and linguistic competency within systems and organizations. The Cultural and Linguistic Competence Health Practitioner Assessment (CLCHPA) self-guided learning activity developed by the NCCC, is designed to enhance the delivery of high-quality services for diverse patient/client populations, and promote cultural and linguistic as essential approaches addressing health and healthcare disparities.
  • Language Identification Cards for Limited English Proficiency: This tool helps identify languages spoken by individuals with limited English proficiency. The Language Flash Card contains 38 common languages.
  • Office of Minority Health - Cultural Competency Section: The Office of Minority Health addresses disease prevention, health promotion, risk reduction, healthier lifestyle choices, use of health care services and barriers to health care for racial and ethnic minorities. Key strategies focused on fostering research, establishing networks and funding programs that can contribute to health policy and the effectiveness of strategies for improving health. For additional information, please visit the Office of Minority Health website.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Information on National CLAS Standards and education including free continuing education e-learning programs, resources to recorded presentations, quarterly newsletters, case study video units and more.