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cultural competency, diversity, hospital systems, multiculturalism



  1. Polacek, Georgia N.L.J. PhD
  2. Martinez, Ruben PhD


Cultural competence in health care has come to the forefront with the changing demographics in the United States. Standards have been created by the Office of Minority Health for culturally appropriate health care. This article presents the findings of one hospital system's cultural competency assessment. Employee surveys and patient and physician focus groups were conducted to gain insight into cultural differences and challenges encountered in this system. Statistically significant effects of ethnicity and gender on language skills and awareness, as well as differences in awareness and knowledge by the respondent's employment position, were found. Patient concerns included access to care and respect from staff. The need for cross-cultural education and training for all health care delivery personnel was reinforced. Cultural competency will not be achieved if education, attention to diversity, trained interpreters, and the understanding that social factors have a profound influence on health and health outcomes are not considered.