Skip to main content

Patient diversity and cultural competence

In Texas and across the United States, the diversity of our population is increasing rapidly. More and more, physicians are coming into contact with patients from various cultural backgrounds who often hold different values, beliefs and standards. To effectively provide treatment that is socially and culturally sensitive, physicians are planning and implementing new policies and procedures to ensure “cultural competence.”

The National Center for Cultural Competence defines cultural competence as an organization’s  defined set of values and principles that “demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, policies and structures that enable them to work effectively cross-culturally.”(1) For example, this may include creating office policies for examining Muslim patients. Protecting the modesty of these patients, especially in cross-gender interactions, is of great importance. Becoming informed of the sensitivities of this patient  population is an important way to foster cultural competence in your practice. The Center also points out that cultural competence is a “developmental process that evolves over an extended time.”(1) 

The following links and articles provide additional information on cultural competence:


(1) National Center for Cultural Competence, Conceptual Frameworks/Models, Guiding Values and Principles. Accessed August 13, 2015.