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Cultural Competence Works: Using Cultural Competence to Improve the Quality of Health Care for Diverse Populations and Add Value to Managed Care Arrangements
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As the United States grows in diversity, health care providers are increasingly challenged to understand and address the linguistic and cultural needs of a diverse clientele. The Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA] has had a long-standing and particular interest in cultural competence because so many of its grantees provide care to traditionally underserved populations that include culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The following is a useful definition of cultural and linguistic competence: Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations.

Many health care providers, and especially HRSA grantees, have developed creative and successful programs to address the needs of underserved, culturally diverse communities, including interpreter services, cultural competence training for staff, targeted outreach programs, and other culturally appropriate interventions. As more underserved populations are incorporated into managed care arrangements, these culturally competent practices may make HRSA grantees attractive partners to managed care organizations.

HRSA’s Center for Health Services Financing and Managed Care sponsored the Cultural Competence Works competition, a nationwide search beginning in the Fall of 1998, to recognize and honor outstanding HRSA-funded programs and to highlight the practices they employ to provide culturally competent care for diverse populations. (Authors)
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