Find out how you measure up in new cultural competence self-assessment


After a successful pilot program with Cigna, the Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) has rolled out a self-guided educational program aimed at improving the quality of service healthcare providers deliver to diverse populations.

Doctors who want to test their own cultural competence can take the center's online self-assessment.

The link between cultural sensitivity and improved patient care has been noted consistently, particularly among doctors with insight on a specific community, according to previous reporting by FiercePracticeManagement. Cultural differences affect the quality of care by improving the quality of communication between practitioners and patients, according to Peggy Payne, leader of the Cigna Health Equity Council. While previous reports have focused on end-of-life issues, Payne notes additional issues that can arise because of cultural differences include overmedication, inability to manage chronic diseases and unnecessary hospitalizations.

In a joint announcement, Cigna and the NCCC described their pilot program, which involved 450 doctors from Cigna’s network who took the online self-assessment. Theoretical knowledge of cultural competency and health disparities proved widespread, with 80 percent scoring “highly skilled,” but around 40 percent received low scores when it came to the practical application of that knowledge. The NCCC followed up with personalized reports for each doctor and guidance for ongoing professional development to expand their cross-cultural skill sets.

More promisingly, the organizations reported a positive response from physicians who took the assessment, who “overwhelmingly…indicated that the process increased their awareness of the role of linguistic and cultural competence in their practice and among their staff.”

Self-assessment is a key element for building cultural and linguistic skills, according to Tawara Goode, director of the NCCC. “There are few validated measures of cultural and linguistic competence for healthcare practitioners,” she said, underscoring the importance of the program’s offering as an opportunity for physicians to test their awareness and reflect on ways they might improve their competencies in this area.

Following the pilot, the NCCC has made the online self-assessment widely available to any interested healthcare professional via its website.