Cultural competence in medical education

Henn, P. (2010) Cultural competence in medical education. In: Medical Education: The State of the Art. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., pp. 121-129. ISBN 9781608761944 (ISBN)


Graduates of medical schools are required to provide health care for communities that are increasingly diverse with respect to cultural, ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds. The demographic transition model suggests that the world will see increasing migration for economic reasons from the developing world to the developed world with a consequential increase in cultural, ethnic, religious and racial diversity. Inequalities in the delivery of health care to minorities have been well documented. The Institute of Medicine identified cultural competence training of health professionals as a potential means to improve quality of care and reduce health disparities between ethnic minorities and the majority population. Graduates in the medical profession will therefore need to have the knowledge, skills and attitudes with respect to cultural competence to help meet these challenges. Key themes and components of cultural competence need to be developed and incorporated into the curriculum of medical education. To date this strategy shows promise at improving the knowledge, attitudes and skills of health professionals. However, evidence that it improves patient adherence to therapy, health outcomes, and equity of service across racial and ethnic groups is lacking. Many studies lack methodological rigour and this limits the evidence for the impact of cultural competence training on improving health care for minorities. Further research is needed and more attention paid to the design, evaluation and reporting of cultural competency training programmes. © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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