National Center for Cultural Competence
Knowledge, Skills and Awareness for Cultural Brokers

Cultural brokers require a set of competencies that enable them to work cross-culturally and that include, but are not limited to, awareness, knowledge, and skills as described below.

Awareness. Cultural brokers are aware of (1) their own cultural identity, (2) the cultural identity of the members of diverse communities, and (3) the social, political and economic factors affecting diverse communities within a cultural context.

Knowledge. Cultural brokers innately understand (1) values, beliefs and practices associated with illness, health, wellness, and well-being of cultural groups; (2) traditional or indigenous health care networks within diverse communities; and (3) medical, health care, and mental health care systems (e.g., health history and assessment, diagnostic protocols, and treatment and interventions).


Effective cultural brokers are cognizant of the multiple factors impacting community diversity. These factors include, but are not limited to the following: geographic location, population density, population stability, age distribution of population, social history, intergroup relationships, and the social, political, and economic climates of communities served (Goode, 2001).


Other factors influencing diversity among individuals and groups are race and ethnicity, language, nationality, clan or tribal affiliation, acculturation, assimilation, age, gender, sexual orientation, educational literacy, social economic status, political affiliation, and religious and spiritual beliefs (modified from James Mason, Ph.D., NCCC senior consultant).

Skills. Cultural brokers have a range of skills that enable them to (1) communicate in a cross-cultural context, (2) communicate in two or more languages, (3) interpret and/or translate information from one language to another, (4) advocate with and on behalf of patients/consumers, (5) negotiate health care and other service delivery systems, and (6) mediate and manage conflict. Commensurate with the conceptual framework of cultural competence, the knowledge and skill levels of cultural brokers are also along a continuum. Knowledge acquisition is not a discrete process; instead, it evolves over time leading to levels of proficiency.
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