There are many varied definitions of cultural competence
that are used by healthcare organizations and institutions of higher
learning. At UMDNJ, cultural competence is defined by a compilation
of indicators identified in the following definitions:
1. Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes
and policies that come together as a system, agency or among professionals
and enable that system, agency or those professionals to work effectively
in cross-cultural situations. The word “culture” is
used because it implies the integrated pattern of human behavior
that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs,
values and institutions of a racial, ethnic,religious or social
group. The word “competence” is used because it implies
having the capacity to function effectively.
2. Cultural competence requires that organizations:
have a defined set of values
and principles, and demonstrate behaviors, attitudes,
policies and structures that enable them to work effectively
have the capacity to (1) value
diversity, (2) conduct self-assessment, (3) manage the
dynamics of difference, (4) acquire and institutionalize cultural
knowledge and (5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts
of the communities they serve.
incorporate the above in all aspects of policy
making, administration, practice, service delivery and involve
systematically consumers, key stakeholders and communities.
Cultural competence: A set of integrated attitudes, knowledge and
skills that enable a health care professional or organization to
care effectively for patients from diverse cultures, groups and
1. Cross TL, Bazron BJ, Dennis KW, Isaacs MR. Towards a Culturally
System of Care: Vol. I. Washington,DC: National Technical Assistance
Center for Children's
Mental Health, Georgetown University Child Development Center; 1989.
2. National Center for Cultural Competence, “Conceptual Frameworks/Models,
and Principles,” National Center forCultural Competence, Georgetown
University Center for Child
and Human Development, http://gucchd.georgetown.edu/nccc/framework.html#lc
(accessed August 30, 2004).