Hospital cultural competency as a systematic organizational intervention: Key findings from the national center for healthcare leadership diversity demonstration project

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Health Care Management Review





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Background: Cultural competency or the ongoing capacity of health care systems to provide for high-quality care to diverse patient populations (National Quality Forum, 2008) has been proposed as an organizational strategy to address disparities in quality of care, patient experience, and workforce representation. But far too many health care organizations still do not treat cultural competency as a business imperative and driver of strategy. Purposes: The aim of the study was to examine the impact of a systematic, multifaceted, and organizational level cultural competency initiative on hospital performance metrics at the organizational and individual levels. Methodology/Approach: This demonstration project employs a pre-post control group design. Two hospital systems participated in the study. Within each system, two hospitals were selected to serve as the intervention and control hospitals. Executive leadership (C-suite) and all staff at one general medical/surgical nursing unit at the intervention hospitals experienced a systematic, planned cultural competency intervention. Assessments and interventions focused on three organizational level competencies of cultural competency (diversity leadership, strategic human resource management, and patient cultural competency) and three individual level competencies (diversity attitudes, implicit bias, and racial/ethnic identity status). In addition, we evaluated the impact of the intervention on diversity climate and workforce diversity. Findings: Overall performance improvement was greater in each of the two intervention hospitals than in the control hospital within the same health care system. Both intervention hospitals experienced improvements in the organizational level competencies of diversity leadership and strategic human resource management. Similarly, improvements were observed in the individual level competencies for diversity attitudes and implicit bias for Blacks among the intervention hospitals. Furthermore, intervention hospitals outperformed their respective control hospitals with respect to diversity climate. Practice Implications: A focused and systematic approach to organizational change when coupled with interventions that encourage individual growth and development may be an effective approach to building culturally competent health care organizations.


Cultural competency; Diversity climate; Diversity management


Public Health Education and Promotion



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