Cultural Competency Resources

Welcome to the CHAMPS Cultural Competency Resources webpage. CHAMPS developed this online resource to support Region VIII CHCs in providing quality health care that addresses the needs of culturally diverse populations.

Please click or scroll down for:
Definitions of Cultural Competency
Why Focusing on Cultural Competency is Important
What it means to be Culturally Competent in a Healthcare Setting
Health Literacy and Language Services Resources
CHAMPS Population Specific Resources


There are many definitions of cultural competency, but the most widely accepted are the following:

Cultural competency is a set of congruent behaviors, knowledge, attitudes, and policies that enable work in cross cultural situations.

Culture refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include language, thoughts, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and traditions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups.

Competence implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual or an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers (patients) and their communities.

Cultural competency is an engaging, life-long journey of expanding our horizons. Cultural competence means having a mixture of beliefs/attitudes, knowledge/experience, and skills that help establish trust and rapport.


In healthcare, cultural competency:

  • Increases quality of services/care
  • Improves patient outcomes
  • Improves patient safety
  • Improves patient satisfaction
  • Builds trust with patients and communities
  • Reduces disparities


Please refer to the following resource to review case studies of clinicians addressing cultural competency in medicine, suggested activities for increasing cultural competency in medicine, an assessment to uncover patients’ cultural beliefs and/or barriers, and tips for improving the caregiver/patient relationship across cultures:

American Medical Student Association
Global Health Equity

Please refer to the following resource to review standards for providing cultural and language-appropriate healthcare services released by the Department of Health and Human Services in April 2013:

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care


Association of Clinicians for the Underserved
Cultural Competency Series: Framework for Cross-Cultural Health Care

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provides extensive resources for healthcare professionals on cultural competency, health literacy, and limited English proficiency. Following are two links for a free online training and a library of cultural competency resources.

The Center for Health Design
Designing Safety-Net Clinics for Cultural Sensitivity

The Cross Cultural Health Care Program
Cultural Competency Training of Trainers Institute

The Fenway Institute
National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Health Education Center

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Compendium of Cultural Competence Initiatives in Health Care

HHS, The Office of Minority Health
Cultural Competency Guides and Resources

Management Sciences for Health
The Provider’s Guide to Quality and Culture

National Institutes of Health
Clear Communication: A NIH Health Literacy Initative

Office of Minority Health
Think Cultural Health (TCH)

Patient and Family Education Services
Culture CluesTM – tip sheets for clinicians providing concepts and preferences from various diverse cultures

SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions
Serving Veterans: A Resource Guide


Following are resources for assessing the health literacy of patients, implementing language and translation services, and patient education handouts in many different languages:

Association of Clinicians for the Underserved
Language Access: Understanding the Barriers and Challenges in Primary Care Settings

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Online course exploring importance of health literacy and providing steps to integrate health literacy into public health professions with Continuing Medical Education credit offered
Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals

Quick reference pocket cards presenting medical, dental, and pharmacy terminology in English and Spanish to aid in communicating with Spanish speaking patients
Clinical Reference Pocket Cards

Online patient education tools addressing a variety of cultures, ethnicities, and languages
Multi-Lingual Materials

Cross Cultural Health Care Program
Cultural competency trainings, interpreter trainings, and research projects
Current Events and Initiatives

Cultural profiles, health profiles, and patient education materials pertinent to immigrants to the U.S.
Culture Specific Pages

Healthcare Intelligence Network
This report details educational and communication strategies for leveraging cultural differences to improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare. It is available for $97.00
Cultural Competency in Healthcare: Translating Differences Into Improved Quality and Access

Healthy Roads Media
Provides patient handouts and patient education in various media formats by disease/condition in many various languages
Healthy Roads Full Media Listing by Topic, All Formats, All Languages

HHS, Office of Minority Health
A guide to help healthcare organizations implement effective language access services (LAS) to meet the needs of patients with limited English proficiency (LEP)
A Patient-Centered Guide to Implementing Language Access Services in Healthcare Organizations

HHS, Office of Minority Health
Culturally competency programs with continuing education credits and other resources for physicians, pharmacists, and nurses to better meet the cultural and linguistic needs of an increasingly diverse patient population
Think Cultural Health

International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA)
Database includes glossaries, dictionaries, terminology databases, anatomy atlases, nomenclatures, thesauri, lexicons, vocabularies, manuals, encyclopedias and other word-based documents in the fields of medicine and healthcare in multiple languages
IMIA Terminology Resource Database

Laminated pamphlets that allow health professionals to communicate with anyone by pointing to pictures. Available for $16.49
Medical Visual Language Translator

Limited English Proficiency, A Federal Interagency Website
Reservoir of resources for implementing Executive Order 13166, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its subsequent regulations regarding language access
Limited English Proficiency

National Center for Farmworker Health, Inc.  (NCFH)
A special issue of the NCFH Quarterly Newsletter  focusing on the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Service (CLAS) Standards, cross-cultural communication, and overcoming barriers to cross-cultural health care
Migrant Health Newsline, Issue 1, 2012 

Refugee Health Information Network (RHIN)
Multilingual resources for providers and patients including patient education materials, emergency preparedness information, mental health resources, screening tools and more in many languages (including Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, French, Karen, Oromo, Nepali, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tigrinya and more)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine
Health Literacy Measurement Tools

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
An easy to read pamphlet and medicine-tracking chart to learn about taking medicines correctly in 14 different languages (from the link below, choose language then scroll to “My Medicines”)
My Medicines


Homeless & Public Housing Resources 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Resources

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers and their Families (MSFW) Resources