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Health workforce cultural competency interventions: A systematic scoping review

journal contribution
posted on 2018-06-27, 00:00 authored by Crystal Jongen, Janya MccalmanJanya Mccalman, Roxanne Bainbridge
Background Addressing health workforce cultural competence is a common approach to improving health service quality for culturally and ethnically diverse groups. Research evidence in this area is primarily focused on cultural competency training and its effects on practitioners’ knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviour. While improvements in measures of healthcare practitioner cultural competency and other healthcare outcomes have been reported, there are concerns around evidence strength and quality. This scoping review reports on the intervention strategies, outcomes, and measures of included studies with the purpose of informing the implementation and evaluation of future interventions to improve health workforce cultural competence. Methods This systematic scoping review was completed as part of a larger systematic literature search conducted on cultural competence intervention evaluations in health care in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand published from 2006 to 2015. Overall, 64 studies on cultural competency interventions were found, with 16 aimed directly at the health workforce. Results There was significant heterogeneity in workforce intervention strategies, measures and outcomes reported across studies making comparisons of intervention effects difficult. The two main workforce intervention strategies identified were cultural competency training and other professional development interventions including other training and mentoring. Positive outcomes were commonly reported for improved practitioner knowledge (9/16), skills (7/16), and attitudes/beliefs (5/16). Although health care (6/16) and health (2/16) outcomes were reported in some studies there was very limited evidence of positive intervention impacts. Only four studies utilised existing validated measurement tools to assess intervention outcomes. Conclusion Training and development of the health workforce remain a principle strategy towards the goal of improved cultural competence in health services and systems. Diverse approaches are available to increase health workforce cultural competence. However, the effects of interventions beyond practitioner knowledge and attitudes remains unclear. Assessment of practitioner behavioural outcomes as well as measures of intervention impact on healthcare and health outcomes are needed to build a stronger evidence base.






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BioMed Central, UK

Additional Rights

CC BY 4.0

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • Yes

Author Research Institute

  • Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research

Era Eligible

  • Yes


BMC Health Services Research