University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository

University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository




Laura Witte, PhD, PA-C


Standardizing Healthcare Cultural Competence Training to Improve Patient Outcomes


Purpose: The purpose of this review is to highlight the need for a standardized cultural competence training within the graduate medical education (GME) curricula. Healthcare disparities have been correlated to the disproportionate strain placed on the healthcare system by persons of color. The Center for Disease Control recognizes diabetes as a leading cause of morbidity and mortality; the surveillance data shows a higher incidence among persons of color. If the population of patients requiring ongoing management of chronic disease continues to rapidly grow, it will soon outpace the available providers and resources.

Methods: The electronic database PubMed was searched from July 2016 to December 2021 for studies examining cultural competence training in graduate medical education. The advanced search was conducted with the search terms “medical curricula” and “clinical outcomes.” Inclusion criteria included English language, full text, and peer-reviewed articles. Studies older than five years were excluded. The preliminary search yielded 325 results. After manual review and elimination of articles based on title or abstract screening, 12 articles were retained for this review.

Results: Existing cultural competence training varies in duration and modality across academia. Of the studies reviewed, none claimed to have discovered the single best educational strategy to teach cultural competence. Most of the studies did not have ongoing evaluative systems in place to assess students’ cultural competence post program completion. Evaluative systems that did exist were limited to self-reporting. Despite the lack of longitudinal assessment, the studies shared some common attributes amongst the training programs to include curricula content inclusive of social determinants of health, interactive instruction modality, and evaluative student feedback.

Conclusions: Healthcare disparities continue to prevail. Cultural competence demonstrated by providers cannot dissipate these disparities, but culturally competent providers are better equipped to leverage personal influence in soliciting patient input, concerns and compliance with treatment plans that will improve their overall health. Identification of a standard method to teach and evaluate cultural competence training could resource academic institutions with tools to assist providers in providing culturally competent care.

Keywords: Cultural competence, medical education, medical curricula, clinical outcomes


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