Cultural Competency Training: How Do We Measure Outcomes?

  • Timothy Lee (Emory Healthcare)
  • Sean Ervin (Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center)



The term “cultural competency” in healthcare is meant to convey an understanding of cultural and linguistic differences that exist within and between distinct social groups and a sensitivity to these differences that may allow for improved health care outcomes to occur. The medical literature has validated the importance of cultural competency training to medical education and its possible influence on patient health status and outcomes. Many pre-licensure cultural competency training programs have emerged due to the perceived benefits for healthcare delivery and outcomes. However, few studies have evaluated the clinical impact and success of these training programs. In this brief and limited review, we examine 10 pre-licensure cultural competency training programs for measures of outcomes and analyze the programs with respect to six domains of cultural competency identified by our literature review.


Fifteen programs were identified through web-based search engines and the medical literature. A comparison was then performed among 10 programs and analyzed based on six domains that the literature review found to be important.


This brief review revealed that a majority of pre-licensure cultural competency training programs are still heavily focused on implementing non-patient centered self-assessments to evaluate effectiveness.


If training programs constrain the assessment tools to only non-patient centered approaches, then it becomes more difficult to quantify the medical impact of cultural competency on patient health. The authors propose a unified approach to measure the efficacy of cultural competency programs. They identify four important characteristic outcomes as:

1. Non-patient centered: Fact-based knowing

2. Non-patient centered: Self-Assessments

3. Patient-centered assessments

4. Healthcare resource utilization


Though this approach has yet to be tested, the authors believe that incorporating these four assessments will better enable healthcare professionals to design a new form of cultural competency training that fosters deeper clinical reasoning for providers and improves patient outcomes.

Keywords: cultural competency, continuing medical education

How to Cite:

Lee, T. & Ervin, S., (2018) “Cultural Competency Training: How Do We Measure Outcomes?”, Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis 7(2).

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Published on
06 Nov 2018
Peer Reviewed