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Cultural Self-Assessment

= This section presents a rationale for the critical importance of cultural self-assessment in health training programs as well as key content areas for incorporation into curricula.

Introduction and Rationale

Academic institutions and other health care training programs have an essential role in preparing personnel who have values, knowledge, and skills sets to work effectively cross-culturally.

All aspects of the current health care system must undergo fundamental change to respond effectively to the diverse people who comprise American society today.

=The NCCC embraces a conceptual framework and model for achieving cultural competence adapted from the work of Cross et al. (1989). An essential element of cultural competence is the capacity to engage in self-assessment at the individual and organizational levels.

Assessing attitudes, practices, policies, and structures of organizations and their personnel is a necessary, effective, and systematic way to plan for and incorporate cultural and linguistic competence into organizations. Both individuals and organizations are at various levels of awareness, knowledge, and skills along the cultural competence continuum.

Cultural self-assessment is particularly relevant for health care training programs because many are in the initial stages of addressing both diversity and cultural and linguistic competency within their academic institutions.1 Moreover, there is an established body of literature on the correlation between a practitioner’s capacity to provide culturally and linguistically competent care and improved health outcomes.2 Self-assessment is emerging as an important method to address attitudes, bias, prejudice, and racism in health care delivery at the practitioner level.3

The NCCC is examining the use of a self-assessment instrument for health practitioners to promote cultural and linguistic competence and to contribute to the goal of eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health.

Key Content Areas in Self-Assessment
  1. List benefits, values, and guiding principles of self-assessment
  2. Describe processes and tools for self-assessment at the individual and organizational levels
  3. Discuss the relevance of self-assessment to public health policy


1 Albritton & Wagner, 2002; Barzansky & Etzel, 2003; Flores, Gee, & Kastner, 2000; Shapiro, Hollingshead, & Morrison, 2002.
2 Betancourt, Green, & Carrillo, 2002; Brach & Fraser, 2000; Flores et al., 2000; Kehoe, Melkus, & Newlin, 2003; Smedley, Stith, & Nelson, 2002.
3 Godkin & Savageau, 2003; Godkin & Savageau, 2001; "Healthcare narratives from diverse communities—a self-assessment tool for healthcare providers," 2001; Paniagua, O'Boyle, Tan, & Lew, 2000; Shaw-Taylor & Benesch, 1998.


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