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Culturally Competent and Effective Healthcare

MGH IHP's guide and resources for culturally effective healthcare

HONK! Fest 2010: Parade from Davis Square to Harvard Square

Are you a culturally effective healthcare practitioner?

Health professionals must be able to care for people of many different cultural backgrounds in order to produce better health outcomes. Being a culturally effective healthcare provider requires the ability to understand how the cultures of your clients may impact their care, and to communicate with your patients, even if you don't speak the same language as them.

This guide provides links to resources and tools that will help you become a more culturally effective provider, including materials we have in the Bellack Library for you to borrow.

Please also visit our Health Literacy and Communication guide for more resources and tools for culturally effective practice, specifically communicating with patients/clients.

Find Scholarly Research

While this guide highlights websites, books and media, journals also have information you can use to become a culturally effective practitioner. Search the databases for research on cultural effectiveness, cultural competence, healthcare for specific cultures, data on health disparities and more.

MGH OneSearch

OneSearch is a library tool that searches all of our databases at the same time. You can search for journal articles or e-books.

Are you looking for a specific article or e-book? Type the title into the search box. When you click the search button, the results page will tell you if we have the article or e-book in full text.

Look for the PDF Full Text or Get it from MGH eTreadwell icons on the results page. Click on them to get to the full text.

PDF Full Text icon Get it from MGH eTreadwell icon

Are you searching a topic? Type your keywords into the search box and click the Search button. Results will be ranked by relevancy. Use the limits on the left hand side to narrow down your results.

Cultural Humility

In order to practice culturally effective care, you first need to practice cultural humility.

What is cultural humility? 

  • A personal lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique whereby the individual not only learns about another’s culture, but one starts with an examination of her/his own beliefs and cultural identities

  • Recognition of power dynamics and imbalances, a desire to fix those power imbalances and to develop partnerships with people and groups who advocate for others

  • Institutional accountability

Adapted from Yeager, Katherine A., and Susan Bauer-Wu. 2013. "Cultural Humility: Essential Foundation For Clinical Researchers"Applied Nursing Research 26 (4): 251-256



An Introduction to Cultural Humility

Cultural Humility: People, Principles and Practices (30 minute documentary)
by Vivian Chavez, Associate Professor, San Francisco State University

Resources for Reflection

The following websites, guides, and activities can help you reflect on your own cultural characteristics and the impact those may have on the way you interact with the world around you.

Unconscious Bias in Healthcare

The first step to becoming a culturally effective healthcare provider is to be able to recognize and mitigate your own biases. Often these biases are unconscious or implicit, meaning you aren't even aware that you have them. The following selection of books, e-books, films and web resources about unconscious bias and racism in healthcare can help you learn more about and learn how to minimize your personal biases.

On the Shelves at the Library

Reviews and Reports of Evidence (online)

Culturally Effective and Competent Care

Healthcare professionals have applied the theory of cultural competence to their crosscultural practice for decades now. Cultural effectiveness is slightly newer to the healthcare field, but is gaining traction. As such, numerous tool kits, manuals and other resources are available for those seeking to be more culturally competent and effective. The following resources are general. For resources about specific cultures or specific health conditions, please see the Cultural Knowledge tab.

Online Resources

Books in the Collection and E-Books