Responding to Culture: Beyond Cultural Competence Training

Rachel H. Voss-DeMeester, MPH, Kevin W. McCullough, MJ, Scott C. Cook, PhD., Mona El-Shamaa, MPH,, and Marshall H. Chin, MD, MPH
Date of Publication: 
March, 2014
Source Organization: 

While cultural competence training for health care professionals may increase awareness of cultural differences and of the need to address disparities in health outcomes, it is not enough to produce real results.

This is one conclusion of a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that funded 33 organizations to examine interventions to reduce health disparities with particular focus on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.  The program, finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change, evaluated strategies used in a variety of health care settings to determine what works and what does not. This report summarizes the main conclusions of the research and urges four broad strategies for considering culture as an integral aspect of quality improvement in health care. First strategy is gather as much information about patients' culture through patient and community input. Second strategy is to build interventions based on patients' culturally-based values, preferences, and perceptions. Third strategy calls for creating patient educational materials with images and language that resonate with the target population. Finally the fourth straegy is to ensure sustainability of the overall effort especially during periods of staff turnover or changes in the patient population.  The report includes many practical examples of these strategies in action.  (Abstract courtesy of Dr. Nicholas V. Montalto)

Download the report or view it online

Get more information from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Voss-DeMeester, R.H., McCullough, K. W., Cook, S.C., El-Shamaa, M., & Chin, M. H. (2014). "Responding to Culture: Beyond Cultural Competence Training." Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Princeton: NJ. Available at: