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Cultural Competency: Research

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The following MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) terms may be useful for PubMed and MEDLINE searches:

  • Cultural Competency
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Culturally Competent Care
  • Prejudice
  • Clinical Competence
  • Professional Competence


The following CINAHL Subject Heading terms may be useful for CINAHL searches:

  • Cultural Competence
  • Culture
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Transcultural Care
  • Transcultural Nursing
  • Professional Practice

MedEd PORTAL Publications

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Key Terms and Definitions


"Attitudes and behaviors, which are characteristic of a group or community." (HRSA, 2019)

Cultural Competence

"A set of similar behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations." (HRSA, 2019)

Cultural Safety

See: Why cultural safety rather than cultural competency is required to achieve health equity: a literature review and recommended definition (Curtis, E., Jones, R., Tipene-Leach, D., Walker, C., Loring, B., Paine, S. J., & Reid, P., 2019). The article presents a number of definitions for different terms, as collected from a literature review, and recommends a definition for cultural safety. 

Culturally Adapted Health Care

See January 2020 article from County Health Rankings for background reading 

Statistical Discrimination

"occurs when providers respond to the inherent uncertainty of the diagnostic and treatment processes by interpreting the data and information relevant to a minority patient differently from the way they do with white patients"... involves "misusing and misapplying factually accurate information to reach an inaccurate conclusion concerning the specific patient."

See pages 98-99 in Matthew (2015). 

Matthew, D. (2015). Just medicine : a cure for racial inequality in American health care. New York University Press.

Available online through Himmelfarb. 

Structural Competency

"the trained ability to discern how a host of issues defined clinically as symptoms, attitudes, or diseases (e.g., depression, hypertension, obesity, smoking, medication “non-compliance,” trauma, psychosis) also represent the downstream implications of a number of upstream decisions about such matters as health care and food delivery systems, zoning laws, urban and rural infrastructures, medicalization, or even about the very definitions of illness and health" (Metzl & Hansen 2014)

See also: Spring 2014 article, With Understanding Comes Empowerment, from New Physician 

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